Every so often we receive an inquiry on our cashmere suit fabrics. Much of the time, guys are simply curious whether we even offer them (we do), because so many retailers do not.
Looking back through my old archives, I see that I’ve never written on the subject before! With fall approaching, I think it’s timely to write some words on the topic.
First of all, if you’re lucky enough to have a cashmere sweater in your closet, then you already know just how soft and comfortable they can be. Nothing else seems to come close in terms of luxury and warmth. A high quality cashmere garment can also last you a very long time – and even grow softer.
But all of this comes at a price. I would categorize high-end cashmere as investment clothing and so we should carefully approach this topic of cashmere suiting.
If you’re considering the purchase of a cashmere suit, you’ll need to decide if 100% cashmere is best. Or, if you should be eyeing a blend instead.
Let’s talk a little about cashmere itself, before looking into its functionality as a suiting material.
Cashmere is a type of wool, but one that is exceptionally fine and soft. It addition, it is very strong and light. Perhaps most interestingly, when compared to sheep’s wool, cashmere provides about three times the insulating power.
Cashmere wool is the fine undergrowth fibers of a cashmere goat from the cold plateau of China’s Gobi Desert. Each spring a goat will shed this insulation, but it will take around 3 cycles for a goat to produce enough wool for a single sweater. It’s worth noting that the cashmere is combed from the goats, not clipped. But not all of the fibers are created equal. The longer fibers are deemed higher quality and will find their way into your luxury sweater. The lower quality fibers will respectively end up in a lower cost cashmere garment, and one that will likely pill sooner and to a greater extent.
So, back to our question of suiting…
From a clothing perspective, what you should know is that cashmere isn’t going to have the same body and elasticity that a wool fiber will have. Cashmere makes for a great sweater because the fit isn’t such a big deal, but a suit needs to stand up on its own – it needs to hold its shape.
So, is a cashmere suit a bad idea?
No, of course not. You’ll just need to ensure that the structure of your suit jacket can make up for the lack of body in the fabric (i.e. full canvas construction). This is true for a blazer or sportcoat as well.
Similarly, you will run into some challenges with the pants. You should know that cashmere slacks are going to quickly lose their crease, thereby resulting in a more casual look. They may be too warm, also.
A wool and cashmere blended suit may be the best choice as you’ll gain the benefits of each fabric. Much of what we offer, and frankly what we’d recommend, is a 10% blend (90% wool and 10% cashmere). The cashmere will add warmth and softness while the wool will provide the body and elasticity that a suit needs. It may not seem like a lot of cashmere, but frankly, it’s enough to visibly change the texture of the fabric and add some real warmth (literal and figurative) and softness to the fabric.
Cashmere is a wonderful fabric. Nothing else comes close in terms of softness and comfort. A 100% cashmere suit will be warm, soft, and luxurious, but it may not hold its shape as well as a blend. When shopping for a cashmere suit, consider your budget and the intended use to make a smart decision.
By Ryan Wagner
More on cashmere from Wikipedia.