American author Fran Lebowitz once said, “I do not believe in God. I believe in cashmere.” Such is the stature that Cashmere holds to this day. It is often referred to as “the golden fleece ” But how did this fabric come to make such a name for itself? What is it about cashmere that makes it oh-so-special?
It is fair to say that pashmina is not a mere piece of woven clothing—it is a work of passionate art and skilled craftsmanship. To own a pashmina woven from authentic cashmere is to own an antique through time. To truly appreciate the value of the fabric, one must understand where it originates from and how it's made.
So Where Does Cashmere Come From?
Think mountains. Think rough terrains and harsh winds. And a grand quest to acquire this magic material. Dramatic, huh? You’re close. Cashmere comes from the mountainous terrains of Central Asia, majorly China and Mongolia, where the temperature during winters can drop down to -40 degrees.
Evidence of the famous woven shawls from the foothills of the Himalayas are found in historical texts from as early as the 11th century. By the 18th century, the cashmere shawls woven in Kashmir and Mongolia were exported through the silk route to Europe, where they quickly became luxury fashion worn by elite men and women.
Through the centuries, cashmere has been gifted and worn by royalty, including the Moghal queens. A symbol of novelty around the world, it was even a favourite of Empress Josephine, the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte.
What Makes Cashmere a Class Apart?
Cashmere is picked and spun from the soft undercoats of the cashmere and pashmina goats that live in the northern terrains of Central Asia. The speciality of these goats is that their undercoats are made of ultra-fine, soft hair that keeps them warm through cruel winters.
Unlike sheep wool, cashmere is light in weight, breathable, and yet, offers up to eight times more warmth. When the cashmere goats are combed, the hair is separated into different grades of quality according to length, fineness and colour. Over three goats are combed to make a single shawl.
However, not all goats produce the same quality of cashmere. In fact, the best goats are found in the innermost mountains of Mongolia which experience some of the harshest winters. The colder the winter, the finer and softer the Cashmere&rsquo's hair.
The quality matters
The quality of Cashmere essentially ranges from grades A, B and C, with grade C being the lowest quality. The A grade, being the most expensive cashmere, feels the softest and retains its shape when stretched. It is made of fibres as thin as 14 microns in diameter, whereas B-grade fibres are slightly thicker (around 19 microns).
The C-grade fibres, usually blended with wool or silk, are as thick as 30 microns and don’t feel as soft. It is always a wise choice to go for expensive cashmere as one can live the true experience of the fabric and preserve it for a lifetime. Go ahead, and quiz your retailer before buying your pashmina.
Now you know what goes into making even a simple pashmina scarf; and a lot of elegant artisanship. And we are proud practitioners of the art, keeping alive a centuries-old legacy. Each timeless piece of our cashmere is crafted with love and grace just for you!
Ahujasons: Specialist Producer of Exclusive Cashmere
Ahujasons has been at the helm of hand-crafting the finest cashmere shawls and cashmere stoles for women for over four decades. Each garment is a testament to our love for this exquisite cashmere fibre and for the craft. We are the best among a few producers of exclusive and elegant Cashmere shawls and cashmere stoles with a magnificent range and stunning weaves! Our product range defines our legacy.