3 Distinct Differences Between Wool & Cashmere
Yes, there are some very obvious differences between two of the world's oldest and most beloved fabrics. One is significantly more expensive than the other. One is more lightweight. One is more varied in it’s fabric density, colours, and quality. All of that being said, before we dive into all of the differences, the most distinct difference is the source. Wool comes from sheep, and cashmere comes from goats. But not just any goats, a highly specific breed that produces one of the softest, and finest fabrics on earth. So other than geography, and breed of cute animal these fabrics originate, what are some other distinct differences between wool and cashmere?
Let’s look at a really quick comparison, then do a deep dive on the differences:
- Originates in Mongolia, and comes from cashmere goats
- The fibres are extremely fine
- It’s considered 7-8 times warmer than even the highest quality wool
- It has a shorter life than wool
- Subject to pilling easier than wool
- More expensive
- There are 11 nations that comprise of the top wool producers (with New Zealand at the top, followed by China
- Wool is thicker (though can be spun to much finer)
- Wool can be warm, depending on its thickness, how tightly it’s knit, and its quality
- Wool can last much longer than cashmere
- It’s not as susceptible to pilling, depending on the quality
- Can be very affordable
The Authenticity of the Fabric
There should be no mystery surrounding where cashmere comes from; If it doesn’t SAY cashmere, it’s not cashmere. That isn’t to say there aren’t fakes floating around, with labels that claim something is cashmere when it’s not, but there are far more reputable brands selling authentic cashmere than not. If you buy something that is wool, unless it’s labeled otherwise, you likely have no idea where it comes from. There are 11 different wool producing regions around the world, and countless varieties of wool and blends. That isn’t to say that wool can’t be of the utmost, exquisite quality, but you have to be prepared to invest more to get more.
The Warmth Factor
If you’re buying for warmth, cashmere is the way to go. With a warmth factor of something like 7-8 times more than wool, including merino wool, cashmere is the ultimate in luxurious cold weather wear. This warmth factor definitely plays into the cost of cashmere. Now, if you’re someone who runs hot all year round, cashmere may not be the ideal option for you. And if you’re someone who likes to layer in the cold weather months, think again, you’ll likely only need one layer and that’s cashmere. There are several varieties of wool you can choose from that offer more breathability or versatility.
Cashmere Has More Stretch & Softer Feel
Who doesn’t love the feel of cashmere? Because of its fine fibres, it is irresistibly soft, and there are few wools that can compete. Cashmere is a far smoother fabric, with longer, finer hairs, which makes it less itchy than traditional wool. Wool has more stretch and give to it, whereas Cashmere has some, but holds its shape far more than wool. While cashmere may not last as long as wool due to its fragility, if taken care of, you can still enjoy it for several decades.
If you’ve been wearing wool for most of your life, and you’ve never tried wearing cashmere, it’s likely you’ll be converted, despite all of the differences. Cashmere is one of the softest fabrics you’ll ever wear against your skin, and because it comes from so few places on earth, each piece is truly unique and something you’ll enjoy for decades to come.