Cashmere is made from the fine, soft, downy undercoat of the Capra Hircus, commonly known as Cashmere goats that live on the foothills of the Himalayas. They produce these thin undercoats every year to protect themselves from the harsh winters and shed them during the first few weeks of the spring. It is during that short time that shepherds harvest the precious Cashmere. Since it follows a completely natural process, manufacturing Cashmere garments takes a lengthy time.
The name Cashmere originates from Kashmir in India, one of the places where these goats are native to. It is also the first place where Cashmere processing was first developed in. While the earliest documented use of Cashmere dates back to the 14th century, Europeans especially British and French started exporting it from the 18th century. It took Cashmere no time to became a status of symbol and wealth as royalties began owning them. In fact, it was also said that the wife of Napoleon, Empress Josephine had hundreds of luxurious cashmere scarfs.
- Cashmere is harvested from the cashmere goats, NOT from the sheep. Wool obtained from Chinese Sheep is regular fine wool NOT Cashmere.
- Cashmere is processed from the entire undercoat of the Cashmere goat NOT just from its underbelly.
- The Cashmere goats have two layers of hair on their body. The undercoat is used to make fine Cashmere NOT the outercoat which is made of coarse hair.
- Some countries use ‘Pashmina’ to refer to the best quality of Cashmere. This is NOT true. The word Pashmina derives from the Persian word ‘Pashm’ meaning wool. Neither is Pashmina the best quality of Cashmere nor is it silk blended with Cashmere.