On any number of online sites the terms Kashmir and Cashmere are used interchangeably…and should not be. And just to further the confusion there is the fabric termed Kashmere.
A few days ago while wandering around our local mall I came across this kiosk. As you can see from this image it claims to be selling articles made from Cashmere. I imagine that most of us at sometime or another have owned a cashmere sweater or cashmere scarf or something like that. Cashmere the fabric is wonderfully soft and and fine like silk and well-suited for winter gifts for those of us in the north as it makes a great insulator. In any case I realized that while I had heard the word all my life and once worn a cashmere scarf, I really had no idea what cashmere was. I decided to find out.
Our Wiki friends define cashmere as the following: “Cashmere wool, usually simply known as cashmere, is a fiber obtained from Cashmere goats and other types of goat. Common usage defines the fiber as a wool but in fact it is a hair, and this is what gives it its unique characteristics as compared to sheep’s wool. The word cashmere is an old spelling of Kashmir. Cashmere is fine in texture, strong, light, and soft. Garments made from it provide excellent insulation.”
I learned two things from this definition.
2: Cashmere is hair, not wool as it comes from goats not sheep. ( I later learned that scientifically speaking this is wrong: Wool and hair are made from the same protein. I have written about this in another post: Hair? Fur? Wool?)
The United States Code of Federal Regulations says that “a product may not be labeled as cashmere [note: cashmere is spelled with a “c” not a “k”] unless “such wool product is the fine (dehaired) undercoat fibers produced by a cashmere goat (Capra hircus laniger).” A definition doesn’t get more official than that!
Ok, Kashmir is a valley and Cashmere is wool (or hair, if you feel strongly about it); now what about Kashmere or Cashmere with a “K?”
Kashmere with a “K,” it appears, is a name for a fabric sold (among other places, on Amazon) and defined by one seller as the following: “Kashmere is a one-of-a kind, super combed-cotton and Lycra woven fabric made with fine 2-ply cotton yarns for superior softness.” Let me ask you, gentle reader, is it possible Kashmere was developed in hopes of selling it to folks who think they are getting Cashmere with a “C,” a much more expensive product? Oh dear, I hope not; but you would still be well-advised to look closely at the content of the product you buy!