What is Technical Cashmere?

No one really knows except the founders of Kit and Ace.

I was personally curious to know what it meant when the word "technical" got attached with the word "cashmere." As I researched, I found out that clothing companies like Kit and Ace are trying to retain the fine qualities of cashmere while adding the benefit of reducing the number of trips to the dry cleaner. This would be awesome if the fabric was actually genuine cashmere - though this isn't the case with "technical cashmere." We cannot simply change the fabric construction of cashmere. Let's look into this a bit more.

What is so confusing about technical cashmere?

What is difficult to understand is how a fabric construction that is 80-90% made of viscose, cotton blends (material used to make t-shirts), and an even lesser percentage of cashmere is being called cashmere to begin with. Cashmere is a highly sought fabric and there is a powerful image people create in their minds when they hear the term - unfortunately, technical cashmere is anything but this authentic image of cashmere. Further, by reputation cashmere is associated with only the top quality yarn, characterized by a very warm and light texture. A recently published article that tries to address some of the points within this blog article is "What the Heck is Technical Cashmere?", written by Jacob Brogan of Slate.

Unraveling the technical mystery about cashmere 

Microns is a metric used to measure wool fabric, hence the smaller the microns number, the softer and lighter the fabric. In evaluating cashmere products, I would always investigate into the microns, which represents the diameter of the wool fiber. Pure 100% cashmere is usually defined as the wool that comes from the under-the-neck or the under-the-belly area of the Capra Hircus goats of Kashmir.  

Reading through the Federal Trade Commission Cashmere Labeling Act ," The ultra-fine wool, from the undercoat of the cashmere (or Kashmir) goat, is indeed a premium fiber that generally commands a much higher price than sheep's wool. Not all fibers from the cashmere goat are considered cashmere under the Wool Act. Under the Act, the term “cashmere” can be used to identify fiber content only if:
  • the fiber consists of the fine (dehaired) undercoat fibers produced by a cashmere goat (Capra Hircus Laniger);
  • the average diameter of the cashmere fiber does not exceed 19 microns; and
  • the cashmere fibers in the wool product contain no more than 3% (by weight) of cashmere fibers with average diameters that exceed 30 microns."

Technical cashmere or faux cashmere?

There is a reason that big luxury brands such as Prada or Gucci don't attract people with their soft luxury leather advertisement and then announce that the product is actually made of 90% PVC or faux leather, and only a small percentage is pure leather. Prada or Gucci also don't say that this new fabric construction will save you hundreds of dollars in leather-protecting products. No one does that. However, if something is not the real fabric as the textile industry defines it, then maybe it's better to call it faux cashmere, just like faux leather and faux fur. The price should also be a fraction of what very fine merino wool or cashmere garments cost.

Technical cashmere is a cool term for innocent customers 

Focused on getting an honest opinion, I asked a few friends about this issue, including a few people who have more knowledge about the textile industry in general. While they all had their own viewpoints, one thing that stood out from those conversations was that customers who truly care about cashmere and genuine fabric will never be fooled by gimmicky terms describing the fabric. In fact, they will look into the fabric composition and buy something that is responsibly crafted. It is only the innocent, less aware customers that sometimes get lured into the commercial world because there is something "new" and its showing up on your Facebook feed not the least because of glitzy marketing. 

Today's customer is intelligent, and when they buy something, they want to understand as much as possible about their investment. When it comes to textiles, this includes details regarding the use of any harsh chemical dyes and colors used in the fabrication of the product. These are tiny details that will become increasingly important in a fast moving commercial world where the customer is more empowered than ever.

Gartika's handwoven cashmere is between 11-14 microns and is made with Azo-free chemical dyes that follow stringent European Union textile guidelines (much higher standards than U.S. textile regulations) - making it the finest cashmere you will find on the marketplace. Compared to other 11-14 microns, fine cashmere - you'll notice that our current range of cashmere scarves stand out because of their unique designs, often complemented by handweaving and hand block printed that create truly one-of-a-kind pieces for men and women with discerning tastes. 
December 22, 2015 by Radhika Rao
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Ryan said:

Awesome article!

Its a shame that they chose marketing over any real innovation.


Ryan said:

Awesome article!

Its a shame that they chose marketing over any real innovation.

Radhika Rao

Radhika Rao said:

Thank you, Ryan. The article inspiration came from the fact that at Gartika, we are trying to revive the traditional way of making finest cashmere and while innovation is good, it shouldn’t use false marketing to lure innocent customers. Perhaps the company wanted communicate the ‘machine washable fabric,’ but what they ended up calling cashmere is far from it :)

Karen Bekker

Karen Bekker said:

Sadly, I’m allergic to my Kit Ace garments. My skin becomes immediately irritated and I get a rash. They are so comfortable but my allergy prevents me from wearing them.

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Astyork said:

Your explanation of technical cashmere in your blog post is enlightening! It’s fascinating to learn about innovative approaches to this luxurious fabric. Thank you for sharing your insights

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