Of wool and cashmere
Perhaps you're noticing more cashmere and wool in store as the cool weather sets in, and wondering what makes a wool?
There's lambswool which is very soft, elastic, and used in high-grade textiles. It's obtained from the very first time lamb are sheared, and it's also the highest quality sheep's wool available. Merino wool is another soft wool, made from Merino sheep of Australia and New Zealand. It's a very breathable fibre, and like all wool it is moisture-wicking and naturally regulates temperature to keep you comfortable whether it's hot or cold.
For any wool, the finer the fibres, the lighter and softer it will feel against the skin, and the greater its natural qualities in regulating temperature. Good quality wool can be worn comfortably nearly year-round.
Cashmere, known for being extremely soft, is a rare natural fibre collected during the spring moulting season when the Hircus goats naturally shed their winter coat. The soft material is produced by separating the fine fibres from the coarse hair. Cashmere is eight times warmer and significantly lighter than sheep's wool, but it also takes the hair of four goats to produce one sweater, and so anything made of cashmere will be very expensive. Where the cashmere is sourced and processed makes a difference too, as better cashmere will be made with the longest and thinnest fibres, and also feel the softest.
When sourcing wool, we always look for fabric that will be soft to the touch and also wear well in the long term. It's a practical choice, where the quality of the item is easily felt in fit and finish, and so the item can be worn often and for many years. For wool, we buy from reputable suppliers, and in recent years wool from the U.S. has been quietly improving in quality. This has allowed us to source great quality wool directly to producers not very far from home. We can also order the highest grade wool from Europe on request.