Where Does Cashmere Come From? Dig Into Famous Wool Facts

Arpitha Rajendra
Feb 29, 2024 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Oct 22, 2021
Edited by Jade Scott
Hand touching knitted wool cloth or warm fluffy sweater
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.0 Min

Cashmere is a type of fiber, woven from wool and can be found as a material in raw, processed, virgin, or recycled forms.

This fiber is commonly referred to as cashmere wool. It is softer, finer, warmer, lighter, stronger, and nearly three times more insulating compared to sheep wool.

Cashmere or cashmere wool is fiber acquired from pashmina goats, cashmere goats, and other goat breeds found around Kashmir, India. For over a hundred years, cashmere has undergone a process to make clothing, yarn, and textiles. When Kashmir shawl arrived in Europe from Colonial India in the 19th century, it was named 'cashmere', an anglicized form of the named region of Kashmir in northern India. It was at this time when the cashmere industry started to grow. Both the goat's guard hair and soft undercoat are used in the market. The soft hair goes into textiles for garments, yarn, and fabrics, whereas the coarse hair goes in as a material to make non-apparel products like brushes. According to 2019 data, Mongolia and Tibet, an area in China, are the leading producers of cashmere, followed by Afghanistan. Other fiber goats, including cashmere goats, are Angora goats, Nigora goats, and Pygora goats.

Cashmere is made from the softer undercoats of cashmere goats and is identical to mohair made from angora goats wool. Cashmere is made by combing rather than shearing the longest fibers when the goat is shorn. However, shearing is more effective and it would not hurt the goats. Mongolian goats can produce quality cashmere, however, many have failed to produce the same quality cashmere fiber. Throughout history, fiber has been called pashmina or pashm, referring to the use of handmade cashmere shawls in Kashmir. As demand for pure cashmere around the world has increased air pollution, grasslands in China and Mongolia have disappeared, and cashmere goat herds are starving.

If you enjoyed reading these facts that provide answers to the question where does cashmere come from, then make sure to read some more interesting facts that answer the questions where does caviar come from and where does coffee come from here at Kidadl.

Where does cashmere fabric come from?

Cashmere comes from major producers like China, Mongolia, Iran, Afghanistan, Kyrgystan, Turkey, and few more central Asian regions. There are also other producers contributing to the cashmere industry.

Cashmere goats tend to naturally shed during the spring season due to increasing temperatures simulating the molting season. It is believed that the cashmere industry and its production were started in the 13th century in Kashmir. Before it was discovered as being useful for fabric, the soft undercoat of goats was being used by Indian and Iranian rulers during ceremonies. After its discovery in the 18th century by Europeans, the fibers were exported, particularly to France and Scotland. Even now, cashmere is refined after production in Asia and then sent to the west. Major produces of natural cashmere fibers are China, Mongolia, Iran, Afghanistan, Kyrgystan, Turkey, as well as a few more central Asian regions. Also, the raw material for Scottish or Norwegian cashmere comes from the Kashmir region near the Himalayas. There are also Scottish cashmere goats that were previously imported and bred successfully in Scotland. They were able to produce high-quality wool from these goats.

Man brushing Cashmere goat's wool

From what animal does cashmere come from?

Cashmere comes from cashmere goats. Cashmere goat species, from which the soft undercoat and coarse hair are extracted, are called Capra hircus. There are millions of goats used within the market for this luxurious fashion product.

There is a high possibility that centuries ago these goats not only provided clothing but also meat to humans. Goats normally have very little fat and the cashmere coat protects these goats from winter cold in their native region and keeps them warm. The cashmere is shorn in spring and mid-winter. However, in the mid-winter cold, these animals are vulnerable. Coarse hair and down are scraped by hand using a comb and the comb pulls through the fleece. The fiber is then de-haired and washed. The guard hair of these animals is clipped. The fleece of Australian, New Zealand, Afghanistan, and Iranian animals are shorn producing less natural cashmere and more coarse hairs. Combing is a popular process used in the American market, which can take two weeks. The young from this animal species are also used for selling softer cashmere.

Did you know that these goats are curious species, choosy eaters, easy to train, and love to eat pasta?

Where does cashmere yarn come from?

Cashmere yarn comes from the Capra hircus goats. Yarn is made as thin as possible for easy and comfortable wear.

The finest coats of cashmere come from just below the goat's throat and belly, however, the entire coat is usually removed. The guard hairs need to be separated from the soft cashmere coats. The softest fabric from these coats is created when the fiber is long and as fine as the thinnest hair. The fiber also has a crimp in it allowing air to be trapped, which makes the yarn lightweight and insulating. The average yield of cashmere per goat per year is around 0.25-0.83 lb (115-380 g). One sweater or any knitwear might require a yield from several goats. Cashmere sweaters or cardigans require a lot more yarn and as it is low yield, the process of collecting the wool often requires intensive labor. Cashmere fashion wear can be expensive and is often called 'luxury' fashion for this reason. It has the perfect warmth and breathability for shawls and sweaters and the breathable fabric is good for sensitive skin.

Where does the scent of cashmere come from?

The primary scent of cashmere products is from the goat and its wool.

Cashmere is nothing but wool and wool has a particular smell. The term cashmere is frequently used in the world of scents to indicate a scent that has rich and warm tones with a powdery base. Due to the breathability of cashmere fabric, it won't pick up any sweat. For some, cashmere might smell oily, dirty, and of wet animal, and for others, it might smell earthy and natural. Cashmere is naturally an animal-based fabric woven into a sweater or cardigan so, it will certainly have a little smell of an animal. Cashmere can also pick up other scents from your surroundings. There are easy methods to make your cashmere fresh again. You can leave the cashmere in a room full of sunlight and air so that air can circulate in and out of the fabric. You can then gently wash the material with your hand using chemical-free detergent. After removing the water, you can soak it in vinegar for about 10 minutes. Lastly, you need to rinse it in cold water. Use a towel to take out excess water and let it dry in the sun.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestion for Where does Cashmere come from? Dig into famous wool facts. then why not take a look at When do potatoes go bad? All cool vegetable facts about potatoes, or Why do dogs like peanut butter? Is peanut butter really a protein treat?

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Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

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