Affordable cashmere: an oxymoron?
Cashmere’s back. Although … in my wardrobe it never went away. But it seems now that this amazing fibre has been gently reworked into a new range of fashion staples such as lounge and sleepwear, zip hoodies, wide-leg trousers, and even socks and underwear.
What’s more encouraging is the range of preloved cashmere items that are available. Some small businesses reclaim items that simply can’t be restored to their original purpose, resulting in a range of affordable neck gaiters, fingerless gloves, scarves and hats. And some preloved purveyors – yes, we’re talking Trash Chic here – have procured an amazing range of original items at very affordable prices. Honestly, if you’ve never worn cashmere before, you are missing a trick, as a whole range of male and female wearers would testify.
Cashmere wool is virtually as old as the goats it comes from. The softer parts of a goat’s undercoat are generally used for clothing. But nothing is wasted: the coarser fibres are used to make non-clothing items such as hard-wearing brushes. Who knew? Remember the relatively recent popularity of pashmina shawls and scarves? Those fibres came from goat herds residing around India’s Kashmir region. We have been wearing these throws in Europe since at least the mid-19th century. As well as India, China and Afghanistan are high-producing centres of the fibre. But you will also find production in Turkey, Iran, and even Australia and New Zealand.
Sustainability and durability
Let’s put it this way, as long as we have goats that shed their coats, we’ll have cashmere. And I haven’t heard of goats becoming extinct any time soon. As for durability, that very much depends on the quality and thickness of the fibre in the first place (they all have different purposes), not to mention how you look after it. Oh, and we do need to mention the enemy of cashmere here: those fibre-nibbling moths who can quickly render a sizeable hole or two. My antidote is a spot of visible mending – there’s a whole other blog in that topic alone. I don’t mind telling you I have pieces that are decades old – some gifted, some thrifted and some facelifted – and they ain’t going anywhere any time soon!
Availability and affordability
Of course, you can spend huge amounts of money on a single cashmere item from a high-end label. The canny shopper who might not have a line of noughts at the end of their bank balance will also look in vintage and thrift stores and possibly car boot sales. The even cannier shopper will do some research on curators of reasonably priced items – vintage or otherwise – such as Trash Chic. There’s plenty for everyone out there.
A word to the wise
Don’t be afraid of cashmere. Don’t hide it away ‘for best’ (as my mother would say). My top tips are definitely: flaunt it; love it; look after it; mend it; and let it keep you toasty warm as winter draws ever closer. Those gorgeous goats have worn it every day for years. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t either!
Trash Chic will be appearing at the Autumn Market Pop-Up in Grantchester Village Hall on Saturday 30 September from 10.30am to 3.30pm.
Get your invitation to the Fashion & Fizz private pop up on Saturday 22 October by emailing Jane at firstname.lastname@example.org
Join Trash Chic and friends at Grand Arcade in Cambridge on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 October for their Let's Go Circular Pop Up Shop & Repair Cafe. More information on this wonderful week of events.
Sandra Stafford is an author, editor and long-time Trash Chic customer.
TC's range of preloved cashmere is mainly priced between £25 and £30 per item so if you fancy snapping up a cosy cardi before those winter winds begin to blow, trot along to one of the above events or follow Trash Chic on Facebook and Instagram.