5 Reasons Why Cashmere Is So Expensive (And Why You Should Beware Of Cheap Cashmere)

5 Reasons Why Cashmere Is So Expensive (And Why You Should Beware Of Cheap Cashmere)

Nov 30 , 2021

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Eugene Loh

Cashmere is a luxury fabric that is produced from the undercoat of a cashmere goat.

It has become an iconic high fashion staple, with many celebrities and influencers sporting it on social media.

The question is, why does it cost so much?

Here are 5 reasons why.

cashmere clothes folded on a table

1. Scarcity

Cashmere wool comes from specific breeds of goat found predominantly in Mongolia, Tibet, China, Pakistan and Iran. 

There are only approximately 110 million cashmere goats worldwide. That may like a significant number, but in reality, it is minuscule. In comparison, there are well over 1 billion sheep worldwide.

Cashmere makes up only approximately 0.5% of the total wool produced worldwide each year.

cashmere goat

What's even rarer is high-quality cashmere. 

Certain types of cashmere goats are known to produce the best cashmere. For example, Alasan, Arbus, Erlangshan.

The best cashmere comes from Inner Mongolia. These goats live in extreme climate conditions, where temperatures can drop to -30 Celsius and winter can last for up to half a year!

These frigid temperatures produce magnificently long, soft and warm fibres on these goats, harvested to create the best cashmere products.

If you took the same breeds of cashmere goats and placed them in parts of the world that aren't as cold, the quality of their fibres would not be as good as the ones from Inner Mongolia.

cashmere blanket

2. Limited production

The fibres used to produce cashmere are only collected once a year in the spring.

When the temperature gets warmer, these goats naturally shed their sought-after undercoat. Farmers will either hand-comb or shear these goats to obtain their wool during this time.

One cashmere goat will only produce about 250 grams of wool per year. Comparatively, each sheep can produce about 3 kilos.

It takes at least three cashmere goats to produce one cashmere sweater.

3. Sought-after qualities

Cashmere is incredibly soft and comfortable.

Grade-A cashmere fibres are approximately 15 microns in diameter, which we use to produce our sleeping bag. Comparatively, human hair, on average, is about 100 microns in diameter. 

Lady wearing cashmere apparels reading a book

Cashmere is up to 7-8 times warmer than regular sheep's wool. Moreover, it is highly breathable, which makes it ideal not only for cold climates but also for warmer ones.

Check out our article for the complete list of the benefits of cashmere.

4. Labour-intensive

Once the undercoat is collected, it must be de-haired and cleaned to remove the straighter, coarser hairs of the goats' upper coat. 

De-hairing is a labour-intensive, often manual process the harvested wool must undergo before being sold as cashmere. 

Next, the fibres are kept from clumping together through an aeration process.

The fibres are then carded, which is a de-tangling process that lines up the hairs in thin sheets and then spins into a yarn.

And finally, it is turned into a fine cashmere garment.

farmer hand-combing cashmere

5. Expensive dyes

Organic cashmere fabric, which we use at Snurfle Cashmere, is made using pure cashmere raw materials and its natural cashmere colours.

Such colours include light cream, light grey, beige, and brown.

If a different colour is required, the resulting wool is dyed to the desired colour using low-impact dyes or biodegradable natural dyes.

Pile of colourful cashmere scarves

These methods are incredibly time-consuming and costly.

Regular cashmere fabric is abundantly treated with bleaches, heavy chemicals and metals, synthetic dyes, softeners, and other substances that degrade the structure of cashmere's raw fibres.

Moreover, extra washes and softeners are used to mask the damaged fibres.

Beware of cheap cashmere

Knock-off cashmere products are growing in popularity, but there are plenty of downsides to these cheaper pieces.

Some use a lower grade of cashmere or unsuitable processing methods, while others have been found to contain rat fur or even yak hair!

If you find an excessively cheap product that claims to be 100% cashmere, you may want to reconsider buying it.

Conclusion

Cashmere is expensive for many different reasons, but mainly because it takes a lot of time and care to produce. Cashmere is actually one of the most labour-intensive fabrics to process. But the final product is undoubtedly a staple piece to have in your wardrobe.


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