Cashmere Secrets Revealed
Cashmere has become much more mainstream over recent years. You can buy a cashmere jumper at any price from £99 to £999, from brands as varied as Tesco to Burberry.
It may all be 100% cashmere on the label, but quality can vary hugely and not all cashmere is created equal. What can feel incredible to the touch initially, can, after one wash, become a shrunken bobbled disappointment, thrown in the back of the wardrobe and forgotten.
Once you have found beautiful cashmere it’s very hard to go back to anything else. Soft, warm and cosy, cashmere feels like nothing else against the skin. Cashmere is a great way to introduce some everyday luxury into your life.
Cashmere does need looking after, but it can last you a lifetime and the investment in good quality cashmere can amount to minimal pence per wear over time. Cashmere is a natural fibre and just like wine each year quality will vary slightly depending on the conditions.
Cashmere often gets better with age, which is why it is easy to think that the quality of new garments is worse than they ones you’ve had in your wardrobe for seasons which will feel thicker and softer than new garments. Very often the quality within the same brand isn’t different, but a brand new jumper will perform differently to one you have worn, combed and washed many times.
The best quality cashmere is created when science and art meet, this is what we do at Loop.
Raw materials- Like making a meal or building a house, it is best if you start out with the highest quality raw materials possible.
The best cashmere is sourced from Inner Mongolia, where goats live high in the mountains. Cashmere farms do exist in other places but crucially the winter temperatures do not dip as low as the -40c that the Inner Mongolian winters see routinely. All Loop Cashmere is sourced from Inner Mongolia.
As the temperature dips the cashmere goats coats thicken. The outer layer of the coat is rough and intended to product them from rain and snow. The soft fine undercoat is there to keep the goats warm. As winter becomes spring the goats have their coats combed and the fine undercoat is the cashmere fibre all our cashmere garments are sourced from.
Fibre selection & specification - Fibre is sorted and graded based of fineness and fibre length. We only select the fine long fibres for our cashmere. The exact length and fineness of the fibre are specified and regularly tested to ensure our quality is consistent time after time. Our fibre is between 15.8-16.5 microns and 34-38mm’s in length
The raw fibre is then washed, dyed and spun into yarn to be knitted into our jumpers, cardigans and accessories. It takes at least four goats worth of cashmere to make an average cashmere jumper.
The yarn we use is approved by The Good Cashmere Standard® which encompasses all aspects of sustainable production: animal welfare and environmental aspects, social criteria for farmers and employed workers. The standard also highlights the importance of the farmers, their communities and the environment. It is designed to address issues such as, avoiding overgrazing or land to reduce the risk of desertification, the rights of workers, gender equality, correct payment and health and safety.
Dyeing - We dye the fibre rather than the finished yarn to give the best depth of colour, that doesn’t fade and remains as beautiful as the day you bought it. Melange or heathered yarns, ones that are not all exactly the same shade, like our foggy or pewter colours, can have as many of seven individual fibre colours in them mixed to give the final finished colour that we are happy with.
Detail - Good design is in the details and along with the obvious elements of design, on fit, necklines, stitch details and colour, the designer and quality manager work together to specify the perfect ply, gauge and tension for every style.
Ply – this refers to the number of strands that make up the yarn. As part of the manufacturing process, different strands are twisted together. A yarn with a higher ply count results in more stitch definition. Different plys will effect how much definition ribs, stitch detail and cables will have in the finished garment.
Gauge - A higher gauge makes for a finer knit, great for layering and warmer days, whilst a lower gauge makes for a thicker knit and extra warmth.
Tension - A looser tension makes cashmere feel loftier and a tighter tension makes cashmere feel more compact.
We perfect our fits through many rounds of sketches and on model fits. Every size of every garment is specified and measured and all our cashmere is inspected before leaving the factory and on arrival in the UK.
So now you have some gorgeous cashmere in your wardrobe. How do you get the most out of it, so it looks and feels incredible for as long as possible?