- Cashmere is a sought-after, long-lasting fibre that comes from cashmere goats.
- The underbelly of the goat is what makes cashmere garments so soft and cloud-like.
- INSIDER got a peek inside the Johnstons of Elgin factory to learn how cashmere is made.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Cashmere is a sought-after fibre. A material known to be luxurious and delicate, cashmere stems from the cashmere goat. The underbelly of the goat is what makes cashmere garments so soft and cloud-like. We got a peek inside the Johnstons of Elgin factory to learn how cashmere is made.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: Cashmere: the luxurious garment that is soft, cloud-like, wispy, and high in price. Johnstons of Elgin, a company that has been making cashmere products since 1851, gave us a peek inside the cashmere-making process.
Here’s how cashmere is made. This prized material stems from the cashmere goat and is also almost three times more insulating than sheep wool. These goats can be found across the Himalayas, and they’re very in-demand. In some cases, several goats are needed to make just a single cashmere garment.
Simon Cotton: So cashmere is very precious, and it’s collected in very small quantities. It’s combed from the underside of the goat in a very natural process in the springtime when the fibres are starting to float, so they’re shedding their winter coats.
Narrator: First, the fibres are dyed to the desired colour. Johnstons of Elgin has over 6,500 shades in its colour library. Dying can leave the fibres matted, so teasing helps open them. Here is where the cashmere is blended with other colours or other fibres. Fibres can include Merino wool or silk, so sometimes cashmere can be blended with different colours but have the same fibre, or they can be of the same colour and be blended with different fibres. From there, the cashmere is fed into a carding machine. This machine detangles and combs the hair into thin sheets known as rovings. This process has barely changed since the 1800s.
Cotton: Every single stage is within our control. If something goes wrong at the end of the process, we can go right back in the process and understand what causes that. And of course, when we’re working on the very highest luxury level, we can perfect things, so we can do things that other mills just can’t do.
Narrator: Next, the rovings are uniformly spun into yarn. Spinning twists the fibres together, which helps give the cashmere its strength. At Johnstons of Elgin, the yarn is regularly checked by hand to make sure the consistency is even. The weaving part of the process lays out the pattern of the cashmere garment. The colour, pattern, and design of the weave is decided in advance. The warp, a basic component used in weaving to turn yarn into fabric, consists of the threads that run from the top to the bottom of the cloth.
Cashmere is a very versatile fabric. It’s extremely lightweight and comfortable, keeping you warm in the cold and cool in the heat. The cashmere is carefully washed. Johnstons of Elgin uses water specifically from the River Teviot. This is to help bring the fabric back to its original soft state. The trim is then cut, and a label is stitched on. Although cashmere is a delicate fabric, if cared for properly, it can last you a lifetime. So next time you’re wearing your favourite cashmere scarf or sweater, you’ll now know what makes this material so unique and luxurious.
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