Characterized by its luxuriously soft fibres, Cashmere has long been considered one of the most timeless and quintessential of fashion staples. An all-season must-have and a great long-term investment, cashmere will almost certainly never go out of fashion. Its silky soft natural fibres ensure it hangs better, lasts longer and is undoubtedly the lightest and most breathable article of clothing one could ever own. From pashmina shawls, scarves, gloves, tank-tops and v-neck sweaters, to tie-front ballet tops, wrap cardigans, camisoles and more. Cashmere makes for a tasteful, elegant and effortlessly chic addition to any outfit for men.
Made from the fine soft down coat of the Kashmir goat (whose natural habitat is the high plateaux of Asia - which is why its coat is naturally so warm), cashmere first attracted the attention of Europeans in the early 1800s. Having been woven into shawls and worn in India for years (shawls made of coarser cashmere 'guard hair' were more common while those made of finer quality hair were rarer and generally reserved for noble men and women), travellers, explorers and military personnel began to appreciate its beauty and warmth, bringing it back to Europe as presents for loved ones. Once in Europe cashmere fast became the preserve of noble women - its coveted status assured because of its high value.
The value of cashmere wool tends to vary depending on which part of the Kashmir goat the fur came from. The highest quality cashmere tends to come from the goat's throat and underbelly and, as a result, garners the highest price. The goat's legs and back produce fibres of a lesser quality, which (although still of high worth) gain a lower price value.
Although I represent many different knitting manufacturers, I have found that some of the best quality of cashmere selections comes from both Dalmine & Gran Sasso of Italy. I love to wear their knits myself. Dalmine is a bit more in pricing but both are superior in quality and both have a great design team to execute their products. Specifically, Dalmine offers different qualities of cashmere:
Top Cashmere Pure cashmere yarn, achieved through a particular production process that gives it a very fine thread that makes it extremely soft and fluffy to the touch. After a study of the raw material lasting several decades, Loro Piana has obtained this exclusive yarn, transmitting the quality into a tangible reality.
Cashmere & Silk It is among the most refined and precious yarns that exist, combining in an intimate blend the softness and thermal properties of the finest cashmere, with the typical gloss and lightness of silk. The result is a delicate garment, slim and lightweight, equipped with important advantages for our well-being, such as allowing the body to adapt with ease to changes in temperature.
When looking for top quality cashmere to buy, first feel the fabric. Lower end cashmere has the feeling of a marino wool and a bit harder to the touch than superior top quality. It's a no brainer for anyone to touch and notice the softness and the easiness of wearability when touching a top quality cashmere. Above all, try on the sweater and feel it against your skin. It's a wonderful feeling!
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