One of my greatest pleasures in life is sourcing vintage clothes - I love the thrill of finding something unique and different and mixing it up with a contemporary outfit.
My vintage find of the year happened a couple of weeks ago when I found a beautiful camel overcoat in mint condition. It was slightly oversized but I really liked that, as this is the way coats are being worn this season. I tried it on and fell in love. I could not believe how light and luxe it felt and I bought it without hesitation. It was only the next day when I wore it walking to work on a bracing Lytham morning that I realised how incredibly warm it was, too. I checked the label - it was cashmere. Strange as this may seem, I had never worn cashmere before. It was my cashmere eureka moment! It is the softest but also warmest fabric I have ever worn. As someone who really does suffer in cold weather, this has been a revelation to me. For years, I have heard my friends raving about cashmere's qualities but I honestly did not know what the fuss was about. I now get it! I have since discovered that premium quality cashmere can be up to eight times warmer than sheep's wool despite its light weight.
So I decided to find out more - where does cashmere come from and why is it so much more expensive than wool?
The name cashmere comes from an old spelling of Kashmir, the region is northern India where its production and trade originated. It has a long and fascinating history and, in addition to Kashmir, cashmere has been sourced in Mongolia and Nepal for hundreds of years. Latterly, however, it has been China which has been the largest supplier of the raw material needed to make cashmere. The cashmere fibres themselves actually come from the soft and very fine hair on a goat's body under its fleece, principally the neck and underbelly.
The price of cashmere varies enormously, which is obviously a reflection of the quality of the raw material. The habitat of the cashmere goat is a huge factor. In Inner Mongolia, for example, the winters are extremely harsh (temperatures can drop as low as an incredible -40 degrees in the winter) and the food supply very scarce. This encourages the goats to produce a finer hair which offers them more insulation and it is from this extreme climate that the highest quality cashmere is produced. It is also a very costly production process. Collecting the cashmere hair is done by hand and involves combing and separating the hairs which make up the insulating undercoat from those that make up the coarser top-coat. This is done every spring by herders before the animals have a chance to shed and moult.
What is also very interesting is that although the raw material principally comes from the East, where the climate and environment is perfectly suited to the production of the cashmere fibres, the finishing processes have been refined in Europe and, principally Italy, where the spinning and weaving techniques are very sophisticated. The end product is very soft and beautifully lightweight.
Given the high standard of workmanship in Italy, it is here where Scarf Room focussed its efforts in sourcing cashmere. After a dedicated search, we can now offer a beautiful collection of cashmere to add to our Made in Italy range, Scarf Room's premium collection of women's scarves, snoods, wraps and pashminas. Our Italian cashmere is warm, comfortable and incredibly soft against the skin. We believe that we have beautiful premium product at a very affordable price.
The new capsule collection is made up of Soft Cashmere Mix Scarves in a beautiful palette of colours; the ladies' scarves being available in grey, mauve, burgundy, sage, navy blue, oatmeal, winter white and light brown, and the snoods in oatmeal, blue, rust, grey, winter white, black, mauve and sage. You can see from the accompanying images (all modelled by members of our staff as part of our commitment to use real women!), that the Soft Cashmere Mix Scarves feature a simple knit detail and gentle ribbed edge. They are a versatile choice and can be worn loose or doubled up to create an individual look. You can layer them over everything to bring a touch of Italian elegance into your autumn/winter wardrobe.
Being scarf addicts, we all know that a beautiful scarf or, indeed, snood can breathe new life into any look. And if it is made of cashmere, it also becomes an investment piece that will successfully span fashion trends and one that you'll come back to time and time again. Enjoy!
Ciao bellissime. A presto!