History of Cashmere

Cashmere is one of the most luxurious fibres in the world, with a rich Italian history. People go crazy for the ultra soft hair and know that the Italians do it best (we’re a little biased). When you purchase cashmere, you're not just buying another scarf or sweater, you're investing in a piece that will last a lifetime.


Origins

Image: istockphoto.com

Image: istockphoto.com

To go back to the beginning, cashmere originated in the Himalayan Mountain Range, primarily in Mongolia, but the goats were eventually brought to other countries around the world. The hair used to weave the wool that makes cashmere is ultra-fine and only found in the under neck and belly area of the goat. It’s guarded by coarser hairs that have to be sifted out when the hair is harvested every spring. To shed light on why the material is so expensive — it takes four years for a cashmere goat to naturally shed enough fine hairs to knit one sweater — making the supply low on an in-demand product.

The super fine goat hair is said to have first been discovered and used by Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani to make a pair of socks for a Kashmir Sultan in the 14th century. The Sultan loved the socks so much Ali Hamadani suggested they make a business out of it.


Cashmere in Italy

Images: Medieval towns in the North of Italy near cashmere country.

As the Asian empire grew, cashmere was traded to western countries with Italy quickly becoming one of the largest makers of the soft wool. The primary use of cashmere throughout Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries was to weave shawls for the most wealthy society members and aristocrats.

Today, because the goat that produces the hair needed to make cashmere originates in Asia, much of the raw material is shipped to Italy where the pieces are manufactured. This is what people look for when purchasing — a “Made in Italy” tag. If you’re in the market for top quality cashmere, there are two countries in the world more renowned than any other — Scotland and Italy. Italy’s spinning and knitting techniques make all the difference and draws a clear line that all cashmere is not created equal.


Most popular kinds of cashmere

Centre Image: Marlene Lee

Making Italian cashmere shawls is an oldie but a goodie because they, along with scarfs and sweaters, are just as popular and in demand today as they were hundreds of years ago. Cashmere was also used to make gorgeous dresses and frocks in the 19th century because of the warm, yet lightweight feel it provided. The luxury of cashmere has stood the test of time and holds even more status today when it’s made in Italy because of the high quality our favorite country is known for!