THE WOOL PICTURE
Getting into the finer details of one of the world’s most desirable fibres. With thousands of years of history, cashmere has qualities that are well known. The fine and cosy fibre is derived from the undercoat of cashmere goats, found in regions such as China, Inner Mongolia, India and Australia. Going by where top luxury apparel companies such as Brunello Cucinelli and Loro Piana source their cashmere, the Capra hircus goats of Inner Mongolia produce the best-quality fibres – which help to keep them warm in winter, when temperatures can fall below minus 40°C.
While pure cashmere is often used for knit sweaters and scarves, it is also mixed with other fibres, such as silk and wool, to create blends that hold their shape better than cashmere alone, and is thus ideal for suits. And while your favourite cashmere overcoat can withstand some rain, an increasing number of menswear companies are coating the material with high-tech membranes for greater water resistance, so you’re not just limited to crinkly nylon windbreakers and rubbery raincoats when it’s storming.
In recent years, cashmere has lost some of its cachet due to the rise of other quality fuzzy fibres such as vicuna and alpaca, proliferation of mass-market cashmere, and environmental concerns resulting from overgrazing. Nonetheless, cashmere remains shorthand for cosy luxury – giving a luxe vibe to everything from sweaters to sweatpants, socks and even skivvies (recall designer Maurizio Amadei’s cashmere-blend boxer briefs that cost USD250). Here’s what else you need to know about this fine fleece.