Our 10 truths about pashmina

Are you looking for a Pashmina? But what is it exactly? This word is so popular all over the world, but it seems to not be very well defined. Most associate pashmina with luxury

 and expensive, yet 15$ pashminas are for sale all over. To help me in my quest for the real pashmina, I had to create a set of rules. These are personal and might not please everybody, but they do help me a lot stand firm in my quest .

 

1- Pashmina in facts means nothing

Well, at least in the legal sense. It can’t be used on a label to identify a fibre. The only true meaning of pashmina is wool, in Persian. But it doesn’t just mean wool anymore. The word was then adopted by the Kashmiris to for the cashmere they were producing, translating it even as soft “gold”. The popularity of the Kashmiri stoles made the material popular, and people start calling any stoles pashminas.

 

2- Pashmina is very fine cashmere

Pashminas very fine cashmere produced by small Himalayan goats. That’s it. In India they say it is so rare and fragile it has to be hand spun and it comes from Ladakh in the North. In Nepal the pashmina cashmere is imported from China by the ton. Nothing manual in the production before the weaving.

 

These are not pashminas

 

3- There is no such thing as “A” pashmina

It is pashmina, a material like gold. We don’t say A gold. It is a material made of fine cashmere. But the fashion industry has been using this word to designate large scarves (the stole).

 

4- In India, pashmina is cashmere, but cashmere is not pashmina

Cashmere has to be of a certain grade to qualify for pashmina, usually in the extremely fine variety, measuring between 12 and 15 microns. The textile should never be mixed with other fibers, it has to be 100% pure. But there is no regulation, just a general consensus among pashmina producers.

 

5- In Nepal, cashmere is pashmina Pashmina

in Nepal is much less specific, and is used as a synonym of quality cashmere, pure or mix. The government registered “Chyangra Pashmina” to dissociate the Nepalese production from the Indian. Producers can even now provide certification to their customers. Pashmina textile has to contain at least 50% of cashmere to qualify for the certification. Higher quality grade should be used.

 

6- Fine Merino wool can look and feel just like cashmere

This adds to the confusion for the buyer, including myself. Punjab in India manufactures very nice Merino stoles. Distributors and wholesalers don’t call them pashminas, but shops in bazaars commonly sell them as real pashminas to tourists for prices between 50$ and 100$, local price.

 

7- Imitations can be as beautiful and soft as the real ones

This is the catch. Merino can be descaled (scales on the hair that makes wool itchy) and used to make stoles that look and feel great if no fine cashmere is around. Some imitations are made of a mixture of acrylic and wool or even lower grade cashmere.

 

Label

 

8- Never rely on tags

In Asia distributors can put any tag on their garments, even “100% cashmere” when it is 100% acrylic. China will tag their viscose scarves as “100% pashmina”, and as we know pashmina is not even a name of textile. I saw in one shop some blankets with the tag “100% blanket” !

 

9- Pashmina scarves is a luxury item and is expensive

Primary intuition and the price tag will often reveal to you the true pashmina. Real fine and pure cashmere feels like bird down, the material is fluid, and the scarf out of this world beautiful, even in plain color. The awe factor, then the jaw-dropping price, will tell it all. Pashmina is never cheap, even in Asia where textile is so much cheaper. In Nepal expect to pay at least 100 dollars, and the double in India.

 

10 — Cashmere items are never hung outside

Shops in Nepal and India always hang some of their goods outside to attract customers. But these are never cashmere. It is much too precious to expose it to sun and pollution. Most shopkeepers keep their fine cashmere inside glass shelves or even in a suitcase.

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