Several myths are surrounding the cashmere/pashmina shawls. One of the biggest misconceptions is regarding the difference between cashmere and pashmina. Although, there is absolutely no difference between the two as both Cashmere and pashmina fabrics are made from the wool of Changthangi goats living on high elevations primarily in the Himalaya. This fine outer layer of fur helps these goats to survive during the extreme cold conditions. The goat is often referred to as Capra hircus laniger, but there is not exactly a special breed called the cashmere goat.
Today all sorts of fabrics are labeled as Pashmina which has led to the loss of its meaning completely. A wide range of 100% cashmere to blends of cashmere and silk is categorized under pashmina. The word pashmina itself is not a legally recognizable term for describing fibers content by European or American law. If a textile product contains cashmere, the fiber content must be declared as cashmere on required labeling. Pashmina is prohibited to be used on textile product labeling in the absence of the legally required terminology. Textile products composed of blends of cashmere and silk fibers must be labeled with the appropriate percentages of the composites and designated as such according to textile and Customs labeling regulations.
Besides the composition and labeling issues, there are numerous myths and urban legends that surround this coveted textile. Here’s a list of a few myths that are encountered most often.
- Grade A is the best pashmina quality
There are no official classifications of pashmina wool. Generally, terms like Grade A and superior cashmere are just marketing ploys used by traders to convince buyers that their product is superior. However, the raw wool is classified based on the color and fabric. After the pashmina wool is collected, the raw wool is sorted in color and fiber thickness. The color of pashmina is white or different shades of gray or brown. White wool is most expensive since it can be dyed any color. Also, the delicate pastel colors and the thinner and longer the fibers are, the more expensive they are.
2. Kathmandu offers the best value for pashmina shawls
There are over thousands of pashmina shops competing for tourists' attention and money in Kathmandu. Therefore, you can get lucky while finding a bargain in Kathmandu. In the last few decades, there has been a race to the bottom in terms of price and quality. Typically, in Nepal you will see shawls made from sheep wool and polyamide fabric, which are referred to as "tourist quality." It is important to research the product you are going to buy before making a sound investment for your wardrobe. If you don't know the difference between a fake and a genuine pashmina, you might become an easy target for the slick sellers.
3. First-class pashmina doesn't pill
Not entirely true. The very cheap cashmere made from leftovers from the primary production tends to pile up very easily. When rubbed against another fabric, even high-quality products will produce these fuzzy balls. It is possible to experience pilling issues when wearing your pashmina shawl under a jacket or coat.
4. Cashmere and pashmina are too hot for summer
Pashmina wool is hygroscopic. This means it is naturally breathable. In hot weather, it can keep you cool, while in cold weather, it can keep you warm. Pashmina is capable of leading moisture away from your body, making it a great shroud when the sun is out.
5. Handlooms are superior to machine looms
This is not always the case, and it depends on whether the weaver can master the loom or not. Obtaining the necessary skills requires many years of training and many years of experience. Machine looms have the advantage that they produce more uniform quality and have fewer flaws in the textile. Despite this, because the treads are so thin, they cannot be under as much tension as on their hand-controlled counterparts. If tension is too high, the yarn is more likely to break.
6. Pashmina is high maintenance and should be dry cleaned only
This is not true. Pashminas can easily be hand washed or machine washed on a wool program. It is recommended to wash it in the machine as it will rinse out the soap better than hand wash. As a result, the fabric will dry faster after being squeezed out of water. Never tumble dry pashmina or cashmere, and always use a special wool soap.
7. Shahtoosh is a made from pashmina
The Persian word Shahtoosh means "king of fine wool". The term shahtoosh refers to shawls made from the hair of the endangered Tibetan Chiru antelope, which is being killed for this hair and is traded illegally under Chinese and international law. Shahtoosh is not cashmere or pashmina, there is a big difference between the two. Shahtoosh shawl is incredibly soft, extremely thin, and light in weight, but still quite warm. It is extraordinarily expensive and delicate. Compared to the regular pure pashmina shawl, it weighs less than half as much.
At Hanggul, we aim to facilitate the production of authentic handcrafted Pashmina products and their sustainable growth. With a passion for preserving traditional designs and developing an ethically responsible environment, we strive to preserve the age-old practices of handcrafting pure Pashmina by bringing a modern relevance to an industry that has been around for centuries. Visit https://hanggul.com/ to know more.