Stop Buying Bad Cashmere Sweaters

How can one cashmere sweater cost $50 and another $5,000 when both tags say it’s “100% cashmere”? There is a reason for this, and it goes beyond the design label or even the quality of the fit – there are actually differences in the quality of the wool itself, although technically both sweaters are made from a good material. So how much does quality cashmere really cost and what can you do to get good value for money? Inspired by this Twitter thread by menswear author Derek Guy , here’s what you need to know before you shop for a trendy cashmere sweater this winter.

Why is cashmere so expensive?

Sure, cashmere is terribly soft, but why is it priced in the thousands? The answer is simple: real cashmere is rare and in high demand. While wool comes from sheep, cashmere comes from cashmere goats. These goats are mostly from remote regions stretching from northern China to Mongolia. As Raja Fashions explains, it takes the wool of three to four goats to make just one coat, and just one sheep produces enough wool to make several sweaters.

How to identify quality cashmere knitwear

Overproduction of cashmere, which harms animals and leads to the exploitation of human labor, leads to a deterioration in the quality of clothing. With so much cheap cashmere crammed into the marketplace, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for confused consumers to differentiate between the quality of different knitwear. And as more customers become accustomed to lower quality products, fake “cashmere blends” and outright scams are popping up.

According to Lands’ End , the Wool Labeling Act makes it a crime to mislabel cashmere unless it is legal. However, not all cashmere is created equal. Pay attention to the “grades” indicating the quality of the cashmere; the longer and thinner the fibers, the better the product. For example, Class A cashmere can be as thin as 14 microns, while Class C cashmere is about 30 microns thick per cashmere hair.

If you are buying cashmere and the grade is not listed, you can still check the quality of the product yourself. Here’s how to evaluate cashmere yourself (tips from Inside Hook ):

  • Touch : Although cashmere is known for its softness, be careful if it feels too soft. Some manufacturers deliberately overwash their fabrics to achieve such softness, which reduces the likelihood that the product will last a long time.
  • Stretching : Gently stretch the cashmere to see how it holds its shape – this is what good cashmere does well.
  • Peeling : Rub the sweater between your fingers to check for pilling (when small, hard balls of lint form on the surface). If it begins to roll or fall off immediately, you know it is a lower quality product.

How much does quality cashmere cost now?

Considering the amount of animal hair and labor used, the quality of the yarn, and the quality of the finish, the full retail price of a quality cashmere knit should be at least $400 per person .

Although expensive for most, Guy makes a simple argument for paying for quality cashmere: the product will last longer. It’s better for your wallet in the long run and potentially better for the environment. As with all fast fashion , encouraging the overproduction of cheap products puts a strain on the natural resources and human labor that are used to produce such cheap products. If you opt for a $50 or $100 ASOS “cashmere” sweater, the inferior quality of the product will show up over time, and you’ll be wasting money and resources when you inevitably need to replace it by Christmas 2024.

If you (understandably) don’t want to pay $400 for a cashmere sweater, consider buying knitwear made from natural, cheaper yarns like Shetland. You can also shop secondhand by double-checking brand legitimacy with secondhand sellers.

After all, cashmere is a high-end luxury and cheap cashmere is a false luxury that harms the environment and wastes your money.


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