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Cashmere & Fabrics 101

While cashmere will always be our first love, we also appreciate and admire the many beautiful fibers found throughout the world, ranging from ancient wools to Supima cottons. But whether a fiber is old or relatively new, it must meet our standards. We are — and will always be — obsessed with making things exceptionally well. That mean sustainable natural fabrics that last, designs that fit and stand the test of time and —most importantly — craftsmanship that is as close to perfect as possible and feels exquisitely soft on the skin. Our goal is to create heirloom pieces we hope will give you (or their next owner) pleasure for years to come.

Here’s a closer look at the yarns, fibers and fabrics we are proud to use in our knitwear.

Cashmere


Cashmere is the long, soft, hollow-fibered hair that grows on the underbelly of a specific breed of goats to protect it from the freezing weather of its natural habitat. The name cashmere is derived from the Kashmir region in which these goats originally roamed.

Wool and cashmere share many similar characteristics, but cashmere is known throughout the world as one of the softest and warmest yarns available. Quality cashmere should last for decades if taken care of properly. In fact, cashmere only gets softer — and better — over time.

Cashmere, as one of the most precious luxury yarns in the world, is renowned for its heavenly soft feel and warmth, but it is equally important to understand what makes cashmere so unique.


Cashmere is the long, soft, hollow-fibered hair that grows on the underbelly of a specific breed of goats to protect it from the freezing weather of its natural habitat. The name cashmere is derived from the Kashmir region in which these goats originally roamed.

Wool and cashmere share many similar characteristics, but cashmere is known throughout the world as one of the softest and warmest yarns available. Quality cashmere should last for decades if taken care of properly. In fact, cashmere only gets softer — and better — over time.


Cashmere, as one of the most precious luxury yarns in the world, is renowned for its heavenly soft feel and warmth, but it is equally important to understand what makes cashmere so unique.


Cashmere fibers are many times finer than the smallest strands of human hair. To measure that fineness, cashmere is rated in terms of microns. Cashmere fineness starts at 14 microns and goes up from there. The higher the cashmere quality, the lower the microns.


The length of the fibers collected are equally important, with the longer hairs found on the underbelly of the Kashmir goat being of the highest quality. Brushing these goats is the only way to collect this type of cashmere — and it’s important to stress that we use only cashmere fibers that are harvested humanely.


Pura Cashmere sources our cashmere from farms in Inner Mongolia that are carefully and regularly monitored by us to ensure both the best living standards for the animals and fair treatment of the herders. All our fibers are traceable to four specific regions, thanks to our suppliers’ unique chain of custody program, which tracks the cashmere from the goat to the spinning factory all the way to the manufacturer. All of our cashmere suppliers are members of the Sustainable Fiber Alliance and the International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare.

Once the fibers are collected, skilled technicians use traditional mule spinning to turn them into yarn with superlative qualities, offering all the exceptional softness, lightness and warmth you expect from this noble material. The supplier then tests the cashmere fibers for purity at an independent laboratory, so that you can rest assured that our cashmere purity is … Pura pure.


We also require our suppliers to adhere to the Good Cashmere Standard, which was formed by the Aid by Trade Foundation to set a new benchmark for the production of sustainable cashmere in Inner Mongolia. The Good Cashmere Standard simply follows three main principles: promoting animal welfare in cashmere production, supporting cashmere farmers to secure a sustainable source of income and protecting the environment.


Our Undyed Collection takes sustainability even a step further by highlighting the natural, raw beauty of pure cashmere. Dye-free and treatment-free, this collection embraces the fresh whites, creamy browns and earthy hues of the Kashmir goats’ natural coat. This cashmere boasts the same resilience, warmth and strength that carries goats through extreme seasonal changes. And its luxe feel and rich shades are said to be the result of peaceful days spent grazing mountain pastures in fresh air and sunshine.

Cotton


One of the oldest fabrics in use, cotton has a long and rich history and is known both for its breathability and hypoallergenic properties. Cotton is an ideal year-round fabric to use in knitwear. That’s thanks to its many fibers, which trap air and — depending on the environment — either work to keep one warm or cool. What’s more, cotton can absorb up to one-fifth of its weight in water before it begins to feel damp. It’s for those reasons that cotton continues to endure as a fabric of choice. 

Organic Cotton

At Pura Cashmere, we source our organic cotton from suppliers in China and India that embrace planet-friendly methods like using non-GMO seeds, practicing regenerative soil principles, using organic fertilizers and natural biological pest management techniques. This thoughtful approach results in a 98-percent reduction in water pollution and a 94-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional cotton-growing methods.

The Organic Content Standard 100 — which our suppliers adhere to — ensures the authenticity of products containing organic raw materials. The standard allows for a transparent, consistent and comprehensive independent evaluation to verify organic content claims.

SUPIMA Cotton

Most everyone has heard of Supima cotton, but very few know what it actually is. Supima and regular cotton are, in fact, two different and distinct breeds of cotton. The common type of cotton grown around the world typically has a fiber length of only about 1 inch; whereas Supima’s fiber averages around 1.4 inches. Longer fibers contribute to the strength and softness of the yarn, ensuring any garments made from Supima are more comfortable, retain color longer and resist pilling better. Shorter fibers produce yarns that are rougher and subject to pilling on the surface of the product over time.

Supima is also twice as strong as regular cotton, which makes for an extraordinarily resilient product. The longer fibers resist pulling, breaking and tearing, resulting in products that are incredibly durable and maintain their form longer.

One of our cotton suppliers in England famously uses only ultra-fine pure cotton made on the latest 14-gauge Shima Seiki flatbed knitting machines. This Supima cotton is super soft with a comfortable wear, perfect for spring or summer or for layering under a chunky knit during the winter.

Wools


Wool has been a staple of knitwear for centuries. Today’s wools can run the gamut from cheap and itchy to exquisitely soft and divinely comfortable. At Pura Cashmere, we focus on using the best wools possible in our knitwear.

Most of our wool is sourced from sheep in Australia, which is renowned for producing some of the finest wools in the world. After the sheep are shorn, fibers are separated and processed. With fine wool, only the best fibers make it to the next stage. These fibers are then twisted and spun to produce the kind of woolen yarn found only in the very best of knitwear.

Pura Cashmere suppliers are certified by both Woolmark and the Responsible Wool Standard, which was announced in early 2016 to ensure animal welfare and land preservation in the shepherd industry. Here’s a closer look at our wools.  

The primary merino yarn used in our blends is made from 100 percent ultra-fine merino fleece from Australia. The fibers are carefully dyed in our supplier’s own dye house and are skillfully blended to achieve a vibrancy and depth of color rarely found. Our expert technicians spin the fibers with care and finesse to create a blended yarn with exceptional qualities. 

The lambswool we use is supplied by the firm Z. Hinchliffe, a well-recognized English brand dating back to 1766. The quality of this yarn stems from the source of its fibers. And the luxuriously soft lambswool we use is sourced from the Geelong area of Australia and is spun in Yorkshire, England. 

The wool used in our 100 percent extra-fine merino wool knitwear is spun and imported from one of Italy’s largest woolen mills. Spanning back almost 200 years, this Italian merino wool yarn evokes a strong sense of value and beauty, thanks to its high-quality natural fibers. 

Yak


Yak is a closely held secret of those in the know. Yak are native to the Himalayas, Mongolia and Central Asia and, because those regions are cool, the yak have evolved a unique hair that is extremely warm and naturally soft. Yak fiber is also anti-microbial — and extremely strong.

Our yak fibers are sourced from semi-nomadic herding communities found on the highest plateaus in the world and offer warmth that protects at sub-zero temperatures. Yaks are low carbon emission animals with efficient digestive systems that emit fewer greenhouse gases, including methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Their nomadic lifestyle prevents overgrazing in any one area, while their diet of grass and shrubby vegetation aligns with grassland conservation initiatives as yaks graze and feed gently without pulling up roots.


Our premium yak fiber is sourced directly from herding communities in Qinghai, Tibet, and Sichuan, China, enabling herders to earn a sustainable living while preserving their traditional lifestyle.


By purchasing fibers from our collection, you directly contribute to supporting education, animal science and healthcare in the Tibetan regions where our yak fibers are sourced, as our suppliers commit 1 percent of their revenue from the yak collection to reinvest in the communities along the supply chain.

Alpaca


Alpaca wool has been growing in popularity — and for good reason. Like cashmere and yak, it boasts extremely fine fibers, even finer than human hair. The finest grades of alpaca are labelled as “super royal” or “royal.”

 

Breathable and hypoallergenic but also extremely durable, alpaca wool is commonly used in many products, including socks.

 

Native to South America, alpacas have been bred for over 5,000 years. Alpaca wool has been called the “fiber of the Gods” because of its many excellent properties.

Silk


Silk is a natural fiber that can be woven to create soft and luxurious textiles. It is, of course, produced by silkworms in an effort to form cocoons.


Silk is known for being breathable, resilient and strong. Its triangular cross sections of filaments reflect light, creating a sheen and luster that have made silk highly prized since ancient times. It compliments cashmere when woven together to make some of the most luxurious spring and summer knitwears.

Synthetics


We try to avoid the use of synthetics in our knitwear, however, there are some synthetics that meet our sustainability mission statement. These innovative synthetics have little in common with the cheap and clingy clothing you may have been subjected to growing up. In fact, today’s synthetics are valued for their wearability, as well as the sustainable way they are produced. Let’s take a closer look.

Lenzing Ecovero

Lenzing Ecovero viscose Fibers are produced using pulp derived from wood sourced exclusively from responsibly managed forests. The manufacturing process results in up to 50 percent lower emissions and water impact compared to generic viscose. For those efforts, Lenzing Ecovero has been certified with the internationally recognized EU Ecolabel — a mark of environmental excellence only awarded to products and services with a significantly lower environmental impact throughout their lifecycle. The 2017 Hot Button Report of the Canadian non-profit organization Canopy also ranked Lenzing as one of the best-performing viscose producers worldwide for its sustainable wood and pulp sourcing practices. 

Tencel Lyocell

Tencel lyocell fibers have gained a stellar reputation for their environmentally responsible, closed-loop production process, which transforms wood pulp into cellulosic fibers with high resource efficiency and low ecological impact. Their solvent-spinning process recycles processed water and reuses the solvent at a recovery rate of more than 99 percent. This manufacturing process received the Technology Award for Sustainable Development from the European Commission. Tencel lyocell fibers have also been certified as bio-based by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Terryl (Bio Based Nylon Alternative)

Terryl is a bio-based sustainable nylon alternative made from plant sugars containing 47 percent renewable carbon. This fabric has similar physical properties to nylon in terms of strength, density and wear-resistance, but it outperforms nylon in moisture absorbance and wicking. It also has better elasticity and is flame-retardant and antistatic. 

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