Cashmere and camel hair are sometimes lumped together under the same umbrella. Both are superior grade woolen fabrics, which provide a great combination of warmth and softness. However, there are numerous key differences between the two fabrics.
If you’re struggling to tell the difference between a camel hair and a cashmere cardigan, then read on…
Perhaps the most obvious difference between the two fabrics, is the source of the raw material. While cashmere comes from the Kashmir goat, camel hair items are usually a product of the two-humped Bactrian camel.
Cashmere originated in Asia, and in particular the high mountainous plateaus that lie between northern India, Nepal and Tibet. While the name is taken from the Kashmir province in India, nowadays relatively few cashmere products actually originate in India – far more of it comes from countries such as China, Mongolia and Tibet. Camel hair on the other hand tends to come from warmer climates, and some of the most notable producers include Iran, Afghanistan, Russia and even New Zealand.
In the case of cashmere, the fibrous underhairs of the goat are collected during molting season. Goats tend to shed a lot of hair once a year, usually during the late spring. The raw material is gathered by hand, to allow the weavers to pick out the richest and most fibrous blends. The camels are usually shorn once a year however, or in some countries, the excess hair is removed with a coarse comb.
Perhaps the most telling difference between these two fabrics is the volume of material that either animal is able to produce. Kashmir goats tend to produce around four to six ounces of underdown a year – which means that high end cashmere products could take one animal as long as four years to produce! Camels produce far more, and are able to deliver as much as eight kilograms of hair a year.