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Cheap cashmere flooding the market

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by j, Nov 20, 2004.

  1. montecristo#4

    montecristo#4 Senior member

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    On the less expensive side of things, the Harrison cashmere available on bluefly.com is not very good. I actually had decent luck with a few JCrew sweaters I bought a couple years ago.

    Brooks Brothers merino sucks, IMHO.
     
  2. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    I personally love higher end cashmere, it is quite overpriced though.
     
  3. j

    j Senior member Admin

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    Thanks for the reviews. One of my next questions was going to be how that Harrison stuff was. For my own reviews: I have had pretty good luck with Banana Republic stuff, though it's pretty simple and boring and a moth enjoyed my last sweater from them; A Loro Piana sweater I found at a thrift store and gave to my stepdad was (obviously) amazing; A Decaro (local tailor)-labeled sweater, possibly LP as well, is very nice but needs a hole mended and the body taken in, and also the neck hole is tiny. I'm wearing one by Daniel Bishop right now that I got today; it's pretty nice but again a boring knit. Luckily it is a great color and a good price, but it's just a little scratchy. I will probably keep it and if so I'll see if washing softens it up a bit. As for merino, I've only had a couple things made of it and the only one I can think of is by Ponte Vecchio, a brand that seems only to appear at a "discount", but it is a pretty nice, simple sweater and it was inexpensive.
     
  4. shqiptar

    shqiptar Well-Known Member

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    I throw my merino sweaters in the washer with cold water, and they come out just fine. If I can't do the same with a cashmere sweater, then I can't see myself spending time and employing extra caution to hand-clean it. If you find the time and patience to do it by hand, that's great.

    As for the knit being boring, well, cashmere has always been considered a traditional staple of the middle class, so the manufacturers can't justify the risk of experimenting with new knits, or designs. Most people would spend $300-$500 on a simple classical V-neck or turtle neck sweater, than on some wildly designed ones.

    The fact that we don't live in U.S. makes it difficult to suggest something about a cashmere sweater (we don't have Brooks Brothers, etc.). Banana Republic, Eddie Bauer, even GAP carry sometimes decent pieces of clothing with moderate prizes.
     
  5. j

    j Senior member Admin

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    By 'boring' I just mean the plain knits that most of the inexpensive sweaters are made of. Many wool sweaters are made in ribbed knits or cables, or something with some texture and visual interest, whereas almost all these cheap sweaters are made in plain flat knits. Besides being more dull and plain, these also make any pulls, pills, holes, or spots much more obvious, thereby decreasing the wearable life of the sweater considerably.

    I don't expect anything wild and crazy, I'd just like a little texture, but it appears I will have to pay (relatively) a lot for it. Hopefully along with the texture I will get better fibers that will themselves be more durable.
     
  6. FIHTies

    FIHTies Senior member Affiliate Vendor

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    Interesting regarding Cashmere: (And I am looking at reasonably priced high quality cashmere sweaters for next season.) Taken from http://www.scottishfibres.co.uk/acat...ere_Story.html CASHMERE (& Caprine Fine Fibre (CFF)) All goats, with the exception of Angora goats (and don't let any Angora breeder tell you otherwise), produce cashmere in varying quantities. Cashmere is a fine undercoat grown by the goats as a protection against the winter in much the same way as geese and ducks produce down. Most goats produce cashmere in quantities which are too small and lengths which are too short for commercial use and most dairy breeders (particularly those who show their goats) regard it as undesirable and something which spoils the appearance of the goat's coat. Feral goats and many of the dairy goats produce the finest cashmere but due to the lengths and volumes it is generally unusable, although once crossed with higher volume producing goats new breeds of good cashmere producers can be obtained. More than 3,000 tonnes of cashmere is produced worldwide, the majority coming from Mongolia with smaller amounts from Iran, Afghanistan, Australia, New Zealand and a very small amount from the UK. Until recently Britain handled and processed most of the world's cashmere with the Dawson International group of companies processing around 2,000 tonnes annually, with Scotland the world centre for cashmere finishing, knitting and weaving. In its best year the UK produced 1 tonne. Recently China extended its own processing facilities and the majority of scouring (washing) and de-hairing is now carried out in China along with an increasing amount of finishing. Massive export levies on raw cashmere from China has meant that processing in other parts of the world is now uneconomic and has resulted in the massive loss of jobs and businesses in the UK textile industry, not least in the Scottish Borders. Cashmere growth on the goat is generally regarded as being triggered by the shortening daylight hours of late summer/autumn although many of us believe that other factors - such as temperature and even diet have an influence on the production of the cashmere. The coat generally continues to grow until about the end of the year in preparation for the coldest weather and is removed in the early to late spring depending on the method of harvesting. Where facilities allow, the goats are shorn in early March and kept indoors for several weeks before being allowed back out. This ensures that the maximum amount of cashmere from each goat is obtained since it is done before the coat loosens naturally and falls out. Where the facilities to house the goats do not exist it is more common to comb or in some cases simply pull out the fibre. This has the disadvantage of having to be done after the coat has begun to loosen and therefore, much of the fibre can be lost, but has the advantage of leaving the main coat, or guard hair, intact allowing the goat to continue to have protection against the elements. This method also spreads the process out over a much longer period since the goats shed at different times and it usually requires two or three operations to remove all the cashmere. The fleeces (whether shorn or combed) are individually packed in polythene or paper bags ready for the start of the processing. Scottish Cashmere Producers Association operate a pool each year with all the fleeces sent to a central point where each fleece is individually graded into categories - white hosiery white weaving coloured hosiery coloured weaving reject These are more or less in order of value with white hosiery the most valuable since it is the finest and being white can be dyed any colour whereas the coloured (usually brown or grey) can only be dyed darker colours. Hosiery grade cashmere is internationally agreed as being under 15.5 microns (thousandths of a millimetre) and having the characteristics of cashmere with weaving being above that but under 18.5 microns and having the characteristics of cashmere. Reject (which becomes Caprine Fine Fibre) either is outwith the diameter parameters or does not have the true characteristics of cashmere. This can be caused by a variety of factors and is fairly subjective on the part of the grader who may feel that a fleece is too curly so it might contain mohair characteristics, may be too short, or be too coarse. Because of the very strict adherence to the definition, particularly in the United States of America, erring on the side of caution tends to predominate. Following the grading the fibre is sent to be scoured, or washed, to remove all contaminants whether they are vegetable matter or simply dirt. Once scoured and dried the next process is de-hairing. This sounds like a contradiction in terms sincec the entire fleece is made up of hair but is simply a term used to describe the process where the guard hair is separated from the cashmere. On shorn fleeces the proportion of guard hair to cashmere can be as high as 80/20%. Apart from the cost of all the processes this is another good reason for the high cost of cashmere. Once this has been done the cashmere is ready for dyeing, spinning and knitting or weaving.
     
  7. ernest

    ernest Senior member

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    Can a cheap cashmere sweater be "made in Scotland"?
     

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