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What Is Cashmere & Why It Is The Perfect Must Have?

The Hircus goat, from which we obtain cashmere! Even before being combed, you can already see the silky and luminous aspect of his coat

What Is Cashmere & Why It Is The Perfect Must Have?
Learn more about the ultimate wool

Cashmere is, rightly, considered the jewel in the crown of fabrics. It is the ultimate, the most precious and luxurious of fabrics, with a history spanning over centuries and involving some of the most isolated parts of the planet. 
If you have never tried it, you will be amazed at how much it will change your life. Cashmere is one of the softest and most luxurious forms of wool, characterized by its fine, almost silky fibers. It is considered one of the most premium fibers, as pure cashmere can be very expensive due to the long and complex production process, during which the fibers are separated by hand from the molted fur of goats.
Great style always transcends both season and occasion. And what better than pure cashmere to elevate our level of style and make us look and feel not only just perfect, but also warmly comfortable?

First, what is cashmere, this wool that everyone talks about, but without really knowing it?

The history of cashmere is about luxury, beauty and elegance. Hand-woven cashmere scarves have marked the allegiance of an elite since the Middle Ages. Cashmere sweaters and vests were the staple garments of every English gentleman.
Cashmere does not originate from the eponymous Indian province, as its name suggests although weavers have been making stunning and colorful scarves there since the 16th century. Cashmere comes from the Himalayan highlands of China and Mongolia, where goats living at over 4,000 meters naturally develop longer and finer fibers to keep warm. A long winter of six months with frost often reaching temperatures of -40°C gives the goat's coat unique characteristics that are appreciated worldwide: softness and warmth.
Cashmere is the soft, fine fiber of the undercoat of some goats. This fluffy layer is protected by another layer, which is wool. While cashmere and wool are natural fibers, cashmere is, as sung by The Daft Punk: Harder, Stronger, Faster...but also Finer, and way much Softer.
These are collected in the Spring when it is warmer and the goat, no longer needing this extra layer of warmth, loses it.

Cashmere has been known in Europe since the time of the Roman Empire. It has always been considered a special material and has often been called the "fiber of kings". According to written accounts, it was the favorite fabric of kings and emperors. One of them was Napoleon, who gave his first wife Josephine cashmere pashminas and scarves. She is credited with discovering a method of distinguishing a genuine pashmina from a fake one, the real one being so soft that it can be threaded through a ring.

The new era of cashmere in Europe began in the 19th century, when pashminas from the East became fashionable in Paris. Subsequently, French and English spinning mills began processing raw cashmere imported from China. Cashmere became a popular item in the fashion world. The 20th century saw rises and falls in its popularity, while the 21st century saw a growing demand for high quality natural fabrics.

These goats produce an average of only 150 grams of cashmere fiber per year. It takes 2 to 3 animals to produce a sweater, for example, and 5 to 6 animals to produce a jacket. The annual world production of cashmere is estimated at 20,000 tons, and once treated to remove all but the undercoat, the final yield is estimated at only 6,500 tons, meaning only 30%. For comparison, world wool production was estimated at 3 million tons in 2020.
Why choose cashmere?

When Winter comes, we all need clothes to keep us warm while maintaining elegance. Of course, you will always find clothes in many fabrics such as wool, mohair, alpaca or merino…. However, there is a Wow effect about cashmere that adds a touch of luxury to your outfit, while keeping you stylish and toasty.

Here are 6 reasons why cashmere is the right choice:

1. Natural 
It is no secret that natural and sustainable fibers are friendly to the planet and therefore to you too. These fibers are obtained from goats and the best cashmere clothing do not use harmful dyes or chemicals. As it is natural, there is also an infinitesimal risk of allergy.

2. Breathable
Cashmere keeps you warm, yet dry. With remarkable breathability, while offering incredible warmth, cashmere ticks all the boxes for cozy and comfortable winter wear.

3. Ultra-soft
Cashmere comes from long, soft natural fibers which, when woven, create luxuriously soft and cozy pieces. The most interesting part is they get softer with age. Also, unlike some other fibers, it is non-irritating and can be worn directly to your skin.

Once you get yourself a cashmere garment and taken care of it properly, you can be assured that it will follow you for many years to come. You can easily store it in a cool, dry place and place a sachet of lavender or amber between its folds to keep moths away.

5. Not just Winter clothes
You may have thought that cashmere is only good for Winters. However, you can use it during Fall and Spring, two ideal periods for a stylish cashmere jacket! Its lightness gives it an additional advantage.
6. Perfect for travel
Do you love to travel but hate packing ? That is probably because clothes can cause problems. They take up too much space in the suitcase, add a lot of weight, and end up wrinkled by the time you arrive at your destination. At least, that is the case with most kinds of clothes.

Cashmere acts differently, which makes it perfect for travel. Firstly, it is thin and lightweight. Even the warmest cashmere sweater manages to be much thinner than most made from other materials. You can easily fold a few into your suitcase and you will barely notice they are in there! 
Secondly, cashmere is wrinkle-free. This means that you can unpack in your hotel, pop your cashmere sweater on, and be looking smart enough to head out to dinner.
Most people who switch to cashmere do so for its unbeatable soft quality. No matter what you’re doing, whether out and about, sitting on a plane, or relaxing at home, you’re guaranteed to stay comfortable in a cashmere sweater. That means that you will wear it more often and for longer periods so it is well worth paying a little extra for.

Cashmere Ply, Gauge & Diameter Explained

When you are buying a cashmere item understanding the ply and gauge of the cashmere will help you determine if the garment is the right one for you.  Gauge and ply affect the weight, warmth and durability of an item.  They are not directly linked to the quality of the cashmere; however, they do affect the performance of the item.
What is Ply?
Ply is the number of individual strands twisted together to form a yarn.
The twisting process to form yarn is much like braiding hair. 2-ply yarn consists of two strands twisted in opposite directions and then twisted together to create resistance. Using 2-ply yarn leaves you with a sweater that will hang straight and luxuriously. A sweater created with a single ply has motion only in one direction, which unless designed exquisitely, will lead to warping of the garment.
What Does Gauge Mean?
Gauge is the number of needles used per inch. 
The lower the gauge, the more loosely knit the sweater is the higher the gauge, the more tightly knit the sweater is.
A lower gauge number will provide a lighter item as less cashmere is being used.  If you are looking for a lightweight item, then a lower gauge is best.  If your priority is warmth or durability, then a higher gauge will be preferable.

It should be noted that a cashmere hair is incredibly fine: its diameter is 14 to 30 microns, where a human hair has a diameter of...40 to 100 microns !  

As the great restaurants have stars, cashmere is classified in grade.

Cashmere grade C: 19 to 30 microns. This is the entry level cashmere. The one you will find at prices defying all competition in some stores. Do not expect much in terms of quality and comfort.

Cashmere grade B: 16 to 19 microns. This is a cashmere that is starting to have some hold. It is thicker and therefore a little less soft than grade A. However, it is starting to be very soft and very comfortable to wear.

Grade A: about 15 microns. This is the best cashmere: fine, soft and very warm. This quality obviously has a price.

There are finally two exceptional cashmere, the top of the top of this luxurious wool:
The baby cashmere: it is about 13.5 microns thick. It is incredibly soft. It is the ultimate in cashmere. Contrary to popular belief, the term "Baby" does not necessarily imply that it comes from a baby goat, but rather that it is the first shearing of the animal.

Pashmina: this is the noblest variety of cashmere. Generally used for plaids and scarves. It comes from a particular breed of goat, the Changra goat, which lives at an altitude of over 4,500 meters in the Ladakh region of India. The real pashmina is harvested by a nomadic tribe, the Chang-Pa, who spin it on a spinning wheel and then weave it on traditional wooden looms. Real pashmina stoles are extremely rare and therefore extremely expensive. They are of an incomparable suppleness, fineness, softness and warmth. Unfortunately, there is no certification or label for real pashmina.

Unfortunately, since the 90s, the term is completely overused and is used to name a fine and flexible stole, whatever its composition. Be careful with your purchases.

But make no mistake, it is not just the sweater or the scarf that can be in cashmere...
Cashmere is not just about luxury and style. It is about natural, sustainable and comfortable garments that every man should be able to experience in the best conditions. As wardrobe staples, they are timeless in quality and style. And being skillful, you can easily pair them with any outfit. Casual wear with a beautiful V-neck or round-neck cashmere sweater combined with Jacob Cohen jeans and Santoni double monks or an office wear by combining it with a jacket and pants signed Degand Brussels.

At Maison Degand, we create limited editions of pieces inspired by nature and timeless style. We are the greatest supporters of slow fashion through natural fabrics and use family houses that still use artisanal and traditional techniques. We are delighted to present you instore and online our cashmere collections.
If you want to take your clothing to the next level, nothing beats cashmere. This incredibly soft material is great for your skin while also looking amazing. You might pay a little extra for it but you will find yourself using it more often, keeping longer so it is worth the money. 

In fact, every one of us deserve cashmere.

So, is cashmere worth it? Like many men, you probably spend your days balancing family life, career, hobbies, and spending time with friends. Time is precious and opportunities to pamper yourself are rare. So do not miss an easy way to treat yourself - get that cashmere garment you have been dreaming of. It is rare to find something so versatile, easy to maintain and durable, which means it is a reasonable indulgence that will pay off in many ways.

Do not hesitate to contact us, to come to our store or to visit our e-Shop if you want to know more about cashmere and to discover our collections.