Cashmere Primer – History and Identification


Luxury, softness and authenticity, Cashmere is the ultimate mark of refinement and comfort. It has been so for hundreds of years.  There is documented evidence indicate it already existed in 300 B.C.

It was not until the 15th century that a real industry developed. That was when this fantastic fabric won acclaim by clothing all the famous people of the world. Princes and Monarchs who named it the “thread of kings”.  Today, real cashmere still retains this aura of quality, not only because it is rare, but also because of its production, which requires the same attention as in its history.

Origins and Manufacturing:

Cashmere (French: cachemire) is an oil on canvas painting by an American artist and the leading portrait painter John Singer Sargent. It was completed in c.1908 and is based on Realism style by use of painting genre.
Cashmere (French: cachemire) is an oil on canvas painting by an American artist and the leading portrait painter John Singer Sargent. It was completed in c.1908 and is based on Realism style by use of painting genre.

Initially, it was called kashmir because it came from the region of Kashmir, a wild and hilly territory in the Himalayas between Pakistan and India.  It’s now produced in several regions of Central and South-West Asia, as well as in Spain and Scotland.  Still, Mongolia and Tibet share the reputation of producing the finest in the world since it comes directly from the “Kashmir” goats who live on the high plateaux around the Gobi Desert. The altitude and the harsh climate give the wool a very high quality, the fibre is longer and fine. It is here that each spring the goatherds collect the fine fleece.  It’s a fine down which protects the stomach of the goats during the winter months. For your information to make a cashmere jumper one needs the equivalent of the fleece from four to six goats! This is what makes it so rare and precious.

Once it has been combed, the wool is then washed and dyed before being mechanically spun.

How to Recognise a Genuine Cashmere:

100% pure, 100%, or pure?  The different designations under which cashmere is presented often lead to confusion.  In fact, the genuine products come exclusively under the label “100% pure cashmere”  which guarantees that the article contains nothing but the real wool.  On the contrary, an article labelled “100% cashmere” or “pure”  usually contains a very low percentage of cashmere wool mixed with other fibres.  Watch the labels to make sure that you are buying a genuine cashmere.

The other designation of a genuine cashmere, single or double thread indicates the way the garment is made.  It’s all personal preference; neither one is better. It is simply a question of taste.  The double thread is simply heavier than single thread, but in no way does it mean that it is better. Still, the quality of a garment is solely in the excellence of its fibre and-and the way in which it is woven.