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What to consider when purchasing a cashmere garment.

Why should you buy cashmere? What are its benefits?
Cashmere is luxurious and fashionable and is also a durable and practical investment. Cashmere travels well and doesn’t wrinkle. It offers great insulation; is warm in the winter and cool in the spring. Cashmere is long lasting; it actually becomes softer with age and rarely pills after being worn and washed. It should last a lifetime.

What should you look for when buying cashmere?
Good advice is to buy from a long-term supplier you know whose garments have performed well. As you shop you can compare it with a fine wool sweater, it should feel much better, your fingers can tell the difference. A quick test is to rub the palm of your hand on the surface of the garment and see if fiber starts rolling into little balls. If it happens, watch out. Another quick test is to stretch the garment body side to side and see if it snaps back into shape. If it does not, it suggests possible low quality fiber or very loose tension when knitted, which is another way for retailers to lower costs.

What is the difference between pure cashmere blends and cashmere/silk blends and cashmere/cotton blends?
Several things. Silk blends very well with cashmere and gives garments more sheen and drape. Silk is a “harder” fiber when blended with cashmere on the woolen system so the silk & cashmere blended garments do not feel as soft as 100% cashmere. Silk is less expensive than cashmere so a like garment made from a silk cashmere should be cheaper than the 100% cashmere garment. Cashmere blended with cotton will produce a lower priced, cooler garment with some of the characteristics, luxury and softness of cashmere. Beware of garments blended with very low (under 20%) cashmere. Small amounts of cashmere do not significantly alter the performance of the product.

What about ply? What is the difference between and 2-ply and a 4-ply garment?
Two-ply yarn is better than single ply because the ply twist offsets the torque inherent in a single yarn. Sweater designers often use additional plies to add weight and color options, but the extra plies add no additional quality.

What about the size of the yarn and of the stitches, doesn't that matter too?
Loosely knit, limp fabric is the hallmark of a cheaply made sweater. Longer fiber makes stronger yarn that pills less.

I want to buy a genuine cashmere sweater, what shops do you recommend?
CCMI cannot recommend retailers or shops. Good advice is to buy from a long-term supplier you know whose garments have performed well.

What are some of the differences between high quality cashmere and low quality cashmere?
The most important factor in the quality of cashmere is the length and fineness of the fibers. Garments made with long and fine fibers pill less and maintain their shape better than cheaper lower quality cashmere and will get better with each wash. Fineness, length and color are the most important factors in the quality.

How is cashmere fiber graded?
Cashmere fineness runs from about 14 microns to 19 microns. The lower the number the finer the fiber and the softer it feels.

How does CCMI test garments?
CCMI does testing for retailers and manufacturers. CCMI utilizes the service of some of the most well respected laboratories throughout the world that are considered leaders in the testing and evaluation of luxury fiber products. Testing approaches employed by these labs include optical microscopic analysis as well as electron microscopy, proteomic analysis (MALDI-TOF, UPLC-MS/MS) and DNA analysis. All techniques except DNA analysis microscopic testing will show fiber content of fibers to ensure accurate labeling.

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