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CASHMERE  |  IS IT WORTH IT'S PREMIUM REPUTATION?

CASHMERE | IS IT WORTH IT'S PREMIUM REPUTATION?

We found out the answer whilst researching which fabric to choose for our new winter items.


It is renowned as one of the finest and most luxurious fibres the world has to offer. It provides remarkable warmth given it's lightweight and during fashion week is seen on the runways of around the world.  Cashmere has a mystique and a premium price tag that makes it a candidate for the wardrobe of any stylish man, but is it really that different from wool and is it worth the investment?

Cashmere is named after the Kashmir region in which it originated thousands of years ago.  The main reason for cashmere's expense is it's scarcity - average annual production is only c6,500 tonnes compared to 2 million tonnes of sheep wool.
Darby cashmere scarf
Moulting Hircus goat (Image: @johnstonsofelgin)

It is obtained from the coat fibres of Hircus goats.  These particular goats are special because the harshness of the habitat in which they live has forced them to evolve an additional under fleece on their neck and bellies, below their ordinary coarse coat, similar to the way that ducks have evolved downy feathers.

This down fleece is much finer than sheep’s wool – by regulation pure cashmere down can only have a maximum average thickness of 19 microns (19 millionths of a metre). This makes it much lighter than sheep’s wool and unbelievably soft to the touch.

The cashmere in our items is sourced directly from goat farmers in Inner Mongolia, where the fluctuation in air temperature is amongst the greatest found on earth, from over 40c in summer to below -40c in winter.  This range means the under fleece of the goats that live here has to be exceptionally fine for them to thrive, averaging just 15 microns (1/5 the width of a human hair).
Darby cashmere scarfEach batch of down is meticulously checked  (Image: @johnstonsofelgin)

Cashmere down fibres are naturally crimped, giving them ‘loft’ and enabling them to trap more air than normal wool. This gives cashmere down about eight times the insulation of sheep’s wool, despite it’s lighter weight.

Cashmere down is collected when the goats naturally moult every spring. Most cashmere is collected by simply shearing the goat then sorting the down from the outer coat. 
Darby cashmere scarf
Beautiful combed cashmere down fibre  (Image: @johnstonsofelgin)

The farmers who supply Darby collect the down fibres by hand using a coarse comb to remove the coarser fibres of the outer coat at source.

This technique is thousands of years old and produces an exceptionally high quality of fibre, but it is so laborious and expensive that it is reserved for only premium manufacturers such as ours.

Shearing is much cheaper, but produces a higher coarse hair content and therefore a harsher, less warm product.

Once we'd appreciated this meticulous detail and craftsmanship that definitely make cashmere a worthwhile investment, there was a natural fit with the Darby brand.  

We searched for a world class maker to create items for us and have been really lucky to collaborate with Johnstons of Elgin, who has been weaving and knitting from its Scottish mills since 1797 and is known the world over as a producer of the finest cashmere items.
Darby cashmere scarf
Johnstons of Elgin brand  (Image: @johnstonsofelgin)

This family run business creates items for couture houses such as Hermes, Chanel and Burberry, many of the tailors on Saville Row and the Royal Family (Johnstons currently hold the Royal Warrant to supply HRH The Prince of Wales).

It produces at the only remaining vertical mill in Scotland, allowing it to ensure each step of production is executed to the highest standard, from the raw fibre in the wool store to perfected presentation to the customer.

We chose Johnstons for the company’s unparalleled experience and their makers unwavering commitment to quality, taking genuine pride in every yarn, every twist and every stitch.

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