Cashmere is a luxurious, silky soft fabric that is made from the hair of the Capra Hircus. It gets a bum rap but is considered the Holy Grail of Wool. Because of its softness many men consider it too effeminate to wear. But the truth is it’s a solid strength, long lasting fabric with more isothermal properties than sheep’s wool, making it versatile and warm.
History of Cashmere
The unverified theory of the beginning of cashmere are rooted in the warring tribes of the Mongols. It’s said that Marco Polo found wild goats domesticated by man. It’s theorized that these shepherds provided a silky warm wool. Its unique properties allowed the inhabitants of upland Ladahk and Tibet to keep toasty in the harsh winters where temperatures can dip as low as minus forty degrees Fahrenheit. In the nineteenth century, Europeans were elated to find the precious wool called Kashmir.
In the spring, as the temperatures rose, the goat’s thick coat would lose most of its undercoat. This is the ideal time to harvest the fine hairs and weave them into a thin fabric that is on 2 ply. For comparison, sheep’s wool is usually 10 – 12 ply.
The term Kashmir is the process of developing this amazingly versatile fabric. It’s become the generic name and has been slightly modified to Cashmere.
Benefits of Cashmere
Cashmere is one of the most sought-after fabrics in the world because of its unique properties. Products made from cashmere don’t stretch or fade with proper care, of course. The care is relatively simple and you can even use baby shampoo to hand wash them. It’s amazingly warm and weather resistant, making a perfect undergarment for trekking in the harsh weather. It’s wicking properties are typical of most wool products so the isothermal properties make it a must for physically active men.
The soft suppleness is six times softer than human hair so it makes you feel as if you are wearing silk and is easily worn for a day spent in your pajamas watching the game.
Types of Cashmere Garments
Overcoats and Jackets
Cashmere overcoats are sought after items that, when combined with other quality materials, make any man look rugged while staying soft and pliant as well as wind and weather resistant. Styles vary from bomber jackets to trench coats, depending on your desire and activity level.
The standard idea of cashmere always brings visions of this style of wear. The cashmere sweater comes in various neck sizes from V neck to crew neck to polo neck. Depending on what your occasion is, cashmere is can be the best fit for that activity. It’s great for undergarments during a hunting trip or perfect for lounging at home next to the fire with your fiancé.
Durable and well insulated, cashmere gloves are perfect for almost any outdoor cold activity from shoveling the sidewalk to skiing the alpine slopes. Their weather resistant properties make them ideal for the cold season.
The cashmere beanie will make most millennial men look suave and keep their heads warm and dry. The extreme softness is best against your scalp. No scratchy wool making you look like a bear with fleas. These hats will softly stroke your skin.
There’s nothing like pulling on a pair of cashmere socks. Just as the hats and gloves don’t itch, the socks are better than silk for their wicking properties and ability to hold in warmth during those cold treks to the wood pile or a chill morning at the golf course.
Care of Cashmere
Cashmere is one of the easiest luxury fabrics to care for. Cashmere will last for years if properly taken care of and continue to hold its shape with no stretching or fading. Here are a few tips to keep your cashmere garment in top shape for years to come.
- Be sure to remove any pilling from the high wear areas of your garment. In shirts, this is usually underneath the arms. On socks the heels are most susceptible. Use a cashmere comb to gently remove them and any loose hairs.
- Cover any non-cashmere areas with tape or plastic wrap, especially zippers or leather buttons.
- Turn your garment inside out.
- When hand washing use Cashmere shampoo or Woolite. If cost is a problem, you can use any baby shampoo.
- Gently hand wash your garment in the soapy water. Be sure to rinse it in warm water from the faucet.
- Be sure to never twist, stretch or rub your garment while washing it. Just gently submerge is and leave it for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Wrap your cashmere garment in a large towel and gently press the moisture out of it. Then lay it on another clean dry towel on a flat surface, lightly roll the garment in the clean dry towel and leave it in a warm place away from direct sunlight.
- Do NOT tumble dry or hang the garment to dry. It could lead to stretching.
- Give it up to 3 days to dry naturally.
Storing your garment
Many men utilize cashmere garments only in the winter months and store them for the summer. Here are some tips for storage.
- If you don’t have special garment bags, extra large zip lock freezer bags work well.
- Speaking of freezing, it’s a good idea to freeze your cashmere garment overnight to kill any potential moth larvae that may have found a home.
- Always store cashmere in a clean, dry place away from direct sunlight.
- Launder your garments before storing them. Moths really like skin, hair and food leavings. Not to mention perspiration leftovers are a larva’s dream food.
- When you do launder, make sure your garment is fully dry before storing it.
- Use cedar moth balls as their scent deters moths from finding a home in your favorite sweater.
With proper care and use, the real man can wear cashmere for years to come. From Himalayan to Scottish, cashmere is a luxuriously strong, versatile fabric for any real man.