When you’re talking about suits or sweaters or pretty much any other kind of menswear, there is one material that comes up more often than any other: cashmere. Interestingly, most people have opinions about cashmere, though they might not even know what it is. Some people say that it is the most luxurious of all the different suit materials, others say it is overpriced, and others say that it is overrated. Cashmere, known for its high quality, is somewhat more expensive than other kinds of wool but is also one of the most comfortable. It’s important to know what cashmere is and why it’s so sought after.
What Is Cashmere?
Cashmere is a type of wool that comes from the undercoat of goats that are specifically bred to produce that type of wool; the undercoat is significantly softer than the surface coat. Two goats are required to produce just one sweater; even more are required to make an entire suit. That’s part of the reason they’re a little pricier; moreover, the production process is fairly expensive.
Once the wool is sheared from the goat, it must undergo a process that separates the soft, warm undercoat from the denser protective top coat. The process is incredibly involved, typically requiring employees to comb and sort the hair by hand. Because of the scarcity of the undercoat fibres and the need to sort them by hand, cashmere is a relatively rare product. For example, close to 7,000 metric tons of cashmere are produced every year; while that might sound like a lot, it really isn’t when compared to the two million metric tons of sheep wool produced every year.
As a Suit Material
Cashmere is one of the highest-quality materials for men’s suits. By many accounts, cashmere can be as much as eight times warmer than wool from sheep; it’s also significantly lighter weight.
When you’re looking for a suit, especially one for winter, cashmere is an incredible choice. As mentioned, it is incredibly warm while being fairly lightweight. Moreover, cashmere is incredibly soft.
So, when you’re buying a suit and it seems like cashmere is too expensive, keep in mind the benefits. It is made from the same soft material that keeps goats warm all winter—and it is incredibly lightweight and very resilient.
Some researchers have found that cashmere suits can last much longer than standard wool; however, not all cashmere is equally high quality. The finer the strands of wool and the closer together, the more comfortable your clothes are going to be.
You can tell the quality of a suit by the ranking of its wool. You’ll often see that ranking as super plus a number. That number indicates the amount of fibres. The higher the number, the more fibres are in your suit—which means it will be more comfortable, durable and less likely to wrinkle. You should look for something in the range of ‘super 130s’; that’s a very high-quality suit.
Buying a suit is not cheap—so you should seriously consider cashmere to make sure you get your money’s worth.