Oops I missed this thread when it was posted. Cashmere is a favorite topic of mine and it is by far my favorite fabric. The best cashmere is indeed from inner mongolia. The marketing spin is that the climate there is the cause for the wonderful coats on mongolian goats and that only in Mongolia can the softest and warmest cashemere be produced. While this may be true historically, natural selection does not stop people from breeding the mongolian goats elswhere. Natural selection says that the goats with the finer and warmer coats will live to the time where they can reproduce and pass on their "warmer and finer" genes to offspring. Over time, the ones with warmest coats will be the only ones left. Taking the goats out of Mongolia to warmer climates won't (at least over the short-run), however, change the warmth of their or their offsprings'coats. The claim in the first paragraph is essentially true however since 25% of world cashmere is accounted for by mongolia and mongolian cashmere is on average the most uniformly fine and long. China on the other had accoutns for 60% of world production but it's on avg. lower quality stuff since the focus on volume. Cashmere "from" scotland and italy is merely spun there. This is gonna turn in to an essay heh.. The quality of the cashmere is dependant on a few things and quality can be increased or reduced at many stages of "production". Price is obvioulsy directly related to quality. When the cashmere is combed off the goats, it's tangled, greasy, and has lots of dirt and other things mixed in. The first step is sorting the cashmere by color, which ranges from brown (most common), to grey, to white(which demands the higest premium). Then they need to separate all that other stuff from the cashmere. Also of note is the length and thickness fo the fibers. Zegna is currently running programs in Mongolia to teach herders how to recognize better quality cashmere and separate it from the rest so that they can get more money for it and breed their best goats. Good quality cashmere fibers are 32+mm long and at most 16microns in diameter. If the fiber is under 25mm and fabric made from it will pill a lot easier. When you're buying from quality labels like loro piana or zegna, you're getting the finest and longest cashmere available with almost all impurities removed although it's understandibly impossible to guarantee there won't be a single coarse hair in your sweater. Cheap mass-produced cashmere is likely to have a higher content of <25mm fibers. They will pill and they won't feel as soft. They'll also have a lot more coarse hair mixed in because the factories that remove impurities aren't as attentive to quality as factories that might be owned by zegna, for example. The reasons you can find cashmere so cheap these days is because Mongolia is now a free-market economy and the goat population has increased since restrictions on herd size (in both china and mongolia) have been removed. China is also producing a lot more than it ever has. Quality of the raw materials has also dropped a lot in recent years (thanks china). Some people trying to increase the size of their herds apparently breed the kashmir goats with angora goats (who don't produce as fine a fiber). Herders don't really know the difference between the fibers and that's why zegna has embarked on it's campaign to increase their knowledge of the whole cashmere process. Zegna did the same thing for Merino sheep btw. The superfine wools we have these days (<19.5 microns in diamter) are in large thanks to zegna who educates herders and awards prizes to those with the best sheep (the best ones are in Australia). This year's winner had a sheep who's merino wool fibers were 10 microns in diameter. Fineness and length aren't the only important factos, uniformity of the fibers is hugely important as well. Oh btw, I think the finest cashmere ever obtained was 9-10 microns but there was only enough of it for 1 or 2 suits. Zegna didn't said who got them, but I'm sure if they sold it as a finished suit it would have easily fetched well over 50k heh ;p On to the actual garments themselves: -Don't buy anything under 2-ply; the reason for this is the way the fabric is twisted, not the thickness. If you buy 1-ply, the final garment won't be as strong. Anything over 2 ply just affects the weight of the fabric, not strength -lots of the cheap stuff is mislabeled. manufacturers mix in synthetics or fibers from other animals. -some of the cheaper garments are made of coarser, shorter fibers. Anything over 21 microns diameter starts to itch. Anything under 25mm in lenght will pill very easily. -high quality cashmere has a lustre to it and feels incredibly soft. I assume this is why wardrobe consultants for tv shows always seem to dress their stars in cashmere suits on TV; it looks incredible under the lights. On tv, even civil servants get cashmere brioni suits these days ;p Anyway, if you stick to high end manufacturers you can't really go wrong. I've got cashmere from Malo, Loro Piana, Zegna, Brioni and Canali. They're all of high quality. I've had cheaper cashmere in the past and it's definitely not as soft. I can say for sure that they're all worth the price paid. Personally, I loathe the mass-produced cashmere now saturating the market. Cashmere is supposed to be a luxury fiber. Now people are payign $80 for a sweater and thinking they have cashmere. Call me an elitist or a snob, but it just pisses me the hell off when someone compares Loro Piana to Lands End or BR ;P Do yourself a favor though and stock up on cashmere during xmas sales. The high quality stuff isn't cheap. ;p Davei: Often the price of the fabric isn't necessarily determined solely by the constituents. In the case you stated, I've read that it's really not easy to bond the cashmere and cotton fibers together properly. Is it worth $750? That's hard to say, but since you said it's Zegna I'd say probably. I've never considered anything by Zegna over-priced. Zegna is one of the few companies in the luxury goods market that I would say represents true value to me; Salvatore Ferragamo is the other one. Both companies could probably charge more than they do and sell just as much volume. If it's $750 then there's probably a reason for it. With regard to Qiviut, I hadn't heard of the fiber before. I looked it up and it is indeed 12 microns but the thing that has me wondering is if it's such a good fiber for textile use, how come the likes of Zegna or other mills haven't latched on to it? Â After all, firms like Zegna love rare fibers. Vicuna sells for ridiculous amounts of money because the animal that produces the fiber was hunted almost to extinction by the 60s and now there is strict regulation. The fabric is harvested only once every 4 years by herding the wild animals into a circle and shearing them on the spot, out in the wild. They only get 120g of useable fiber per animal. It's kinda funny actually, if you're ever flipping through fabric swatches, you'll see that the vicuna swatches are little larger than a square heh. Qiviut may be a fine fiber, but it must be missing something imo and I'd hazard a guess that maybe tensile strength is the problem since I've never seen it in any boutiques and I've never seen a qiviut swatch. Surely if it was so great, people would make use of it and sell it for vicuna-like prices (I actually saw qiviut prices and they're really not very steep). Something's missing from the complete picture.. Actually now that you've got me thinking about it, Qiviut is gathered and produced by Inuit. I bet there's some government legislation preventing anyone else from touching the stuff heh.. Dunno why they don't jack up the prices a bit.