When you go out to purchase a new sweater, you likely want something soft and warm like cashmere. Along with smooth dark chocolate, good wine and fine fragrances, cashmere has become synonymous with luxury. Perhaps this is because it used to be so rare, or maybe because Napoleon himself boasted of giving 17 cashmere shawls to his beloved lady. Most likely, it is because fine 100% cashmere items are soft, silky and last a lifetime.
While China is currently the leading producer of cashmere, almost every country has at least a few cashmere producers. Cashmere wool comes from the fine underhairs of the Kashmir goat. The most luxurious cashmere comes from the belly and throat, or the underhairs of the shoulder and back of the animal, while less expensive fibers are sheared from the belly and hind. Top coat or hind fibers will still make a soft garment, but it will pill much easier than the back and shoulder hairs.
Ladies cashmere sweaters were very popular in the middle of the 20th century, as famous starlets raved about the soft and luxurious fiber. Indeed, the vintage sweaters from that era are some of the best cashmere out there. You can still find great cashmere in stores, but you have to know what you are looking for. Certain countries spin better cashmere sweaters than others. Companies in Scotland, Ireland and other parts of the United Kingdom are known for knitting quality sweaters. Italian cashmere sweaters are also very popular, mostly because Italy is known for producing high-quality cashmere fibers, but also because there are a few great Italian cashmere design houses.
While men might think cashmere is too dainty, it actually makes for great heavy-duty garments. Because the fibers are soft and silky, men's cashmere sweaters boast all the warmth and performance of a heavy-duty sweater without the itch and scratch. In fact, cashmere is eight times warmer than sheep's wool. This is because the animals themselves reside in harsh mountain climates, so they produce super warm fur to keep them warm in the winter, and you warm year after year. Again our best bets will be made in the United Kingdom or Italy. If you don't like shopping for clothes, then invest in a high-quality sweater you can keep for fifty years. Quality cashmere won't pill or fall apart in a few months.