Words by Mia Windisch-Graetz
Cashmere: The ultimate cold weather luxury.
Cherished for its soft touch, quality cashmere is 8 times warmer than traditional wools, yet significantly lighter and less prone to pilling. Premium cashmere can last a lifetime (if you treat her well), becoming softer with age. In the Frenchie spirit of buying less, but buying better - we prefer to invest over time in a few very special premium cashmere pieces that will bring us joy and warmth for years to come. Follow our cashmere guide to keep your cashmere looking luxe and loved.
Quality Over Quantity
Length, fineness and whiteness play the most important roles when determining the quality of your cashmere. Long, thin fibres pill less, maintain their shape and will get softer with each wash. Here are a few things you can do yourself to test the quality of your cashmere:
- Premium cashmere products should be at least two-ply. Hold your item up to the light. Very little light should be able to pass through the fabric.
- Stretch your garments to check their elasticity. They should naturally snap back into shape.
- Touch the cashmere to the most sensitive areas of your skin, such as your chin and neck: it should feel super soft and non-itchy.
- The label should read “100% Cashmere”. Blended compositions with silk, cotton or other fibres feel less soft, won't keep you as warm and are a common trick by brands to use reduce their manufacturing costs.
Do Your Research
Ask retailers where they source their cashmere from, if the farming methods practiced are sustainable, and what conditions the animals are raised in. Do the goat herders earn a fair price for their fibres? By demanding to know the history of our products, we can encourage companies to take responsibility for their supply chains.
FAIR (faircashmere.com) from Mongolia is the world’s only certified ethical and environmentally sustainable luxury cashmere yarn. Their beautiful website is definitely worth a quick visit!
Shop Your Favourite Ethical Brands
There are also a handful of responsible brands who don't have the FAIR certification but do offer high quality, ethical cashmere, such as AIAYU, Zady and Patagonia. With a little research, you'll discover plenty of great options out there!
Stella McCartney uses Re.Verso™ regenerated cashmere.
Maiyet works with nomad goat herders in Outer Mongolia to create FAIR-certified cashmere, the world's first ethically-sourced and environmentally-sustainable cashmere yarn.
Patagonia partners with NOYA, a passionate group people working to raise awareness about the importance of sustainable grazing, to offer un-dyed, hand-harvested cashmere from Mongolia.
Aiayu cashmere comes from the goats that inhabit the highlands of Inner Mongolia, and is then refined and turned into beautiful knitwear in Nepal, preserving traditions and helping challenged communities.
The Reformation reveals the environmental impact of each of its products using its unique RefScale.
Cleaning and Storing
Wash your cashmere clothing each 4 - 5 wears. If you have stains, apply a little cashmere (or even regular) shampoo to the spot before washing, or seek professional help.
Wash cashmere in the washing machine using the wool setting at zero degrees in cold water with a baby shampoo or a special cashmere shampoo.
Better yet, wash by hand in the bathtub using lukewarm water. Swish it around, but don’t wring or twist. Once properly soaped up, rinse using clean water, remove from the tub, and press between a towel to remove excess water. Never wring it out! Lay flat on a clean towel to avoid stretching while drying, and above all, avoid hanging. When dry, smooth with a steam iron to flatten and to destroy any pests.
Cashmere may pill after multiple wearings, especially in spots that rub against other garments. These little fibre “knots” can be carefully removed with the aid of a pilling comb. The comb helps to loosen and remove the knotted fibers, without affecting the soft feel of the fabric.
Don't wear your cashmere clothing two days in a row. Instead, allow it to rest for one to two days so that it can return to it's original shape.
Always store folded flat to maintain the shape and fit (hangers can leave permanent imprints on the shoulders and the weight of the garment can tug the piece down) even after many years.