See, I got your attention: everyone loves a bargain………don't they?
When it comes to natural fibres such as cashmere and fine merino wool, sadly, a “bargain” is often the first sign that something is wrong……buyer beware! Cashmere in particular is a very rare and expensive luxury natural fibre: it is limited in supply, but demand for it continues to grow. It doesn’t take a genius to then see why unscrupulous manufacturers and vendors are tempted to cheat with it. So, how do you check what you are getting and should you care? Without going into technical detail, where it all becomes a matter of micron sizes and fibre lengths, there is a very short list of things you can do by way of due diligence.
Firstly, check the price. If it’s too low, start to be suspicious. Sorry, bargain hunters! Too low a price can only mean that corners are being cut with yarn quality or labour costs. In February of this year, Italian police arrested 14 people on suspicion of fraud and seized more than a million garments labelled as being made of cashmere and merino. In fact, they were made from a mixture of acrylic and viscose as well as “fur from rats and other animal” (Source: BBC News).
Having said that, some pieces can be very expensive but still fail the authenticity test, so some further homework is necessary……….
Secondly, read the label: All top-quality cashmere and merino product manufacturers will specify on their labels and in their literature where their products are manufactured and what the yarn composition is. If you are buying on fashion websites; read the product description and the details: does it specify country of origin in the product description or is it silent? Does it specify yarn composition? Those of us who are proud of our provenance and can trace our sources will invariably tell you where the piece is made and exactly what it’s made of.
Thirdly, be aware of the qualities of the yarn you are buying: if cared for properly, cashmere and fine merino pieces are not only luxurious and attractive, but durable investments. After initial wear and washes, the yarn should “settle”, cease to pill and can actually become softer with age. If your "super-soft, luxury” piece starts to fall apart after one season’s wear, you must ask yourself, was it worth the “bargain”?
If you have concerns, ask! Every quality producer will be more than happy to re-assure you on yarn supply and place of manufacture, and and if they are not…well, wouldn’t that get your goat?