Cashmere: Where it comes from, brands that do it best, and how to make it look good

Cashmere: Where it comes from, brands that do it best, and how to make it look good

Written by: Amanda Chung


Published on: November 10, 2022

Fashion Editor: Caroline Griswold

Good cashmere is hard to come by. Not because it’s rare—these days it seems like every store offers a version of the same basic cashmere crewneck—but because the quality can vary so much from piece to piece.

Some of the highest quality cashmere comes from goats living in the snowy plains of Mongolia and Inner Mongolia. When it gets bitterly cold there in the winter months, the goats grow an ultra-fine, downy fleece under their outer coat for insulation. Later, when the temperatures rise and they begin to fall, this underfleece is carefully combed out – not cut off! – by shepherds and then processed, dyed, spun and knitted into the pieces you see in stores.

For Brunello Cucinelli, the founder of the eponymous cashmere brand, there is nothing like it. “Cashmere is light and warm at the same time, it’s easy to layer, and its durability makes it a great sustainable option,” he says. “I like to say that cashmere is forever. I personally don’t like to throw away my cashmere sweaters…my daughters and grandchildren have some of my personal cashmere pieces and this embodies to me the true beauty of this material. “

Back to the popularity of cashmere (and the ubiquitous crewneck): Designer Maria McManus explains that ubiquity comes at a price. “This increased demand has led to cashmere goats overgrazing pastures in China and Mongolia, creating deserts from previously natural grasslands,” she says. “We believe that the use of recycled cashmere, together with support for regenerative agricultural practices, such as the control of animal grazing and increased biodiversity, will enable the deserts we have created in Asia to regenerate and become pastures again.” Whether you decide to buy used or new is up to you. Either way, her advice is clear: “Buying less but higher-quality items is what makes a good fashion investment,” says McManus.

How do we measure quality? “I look at where the item is made,” says Cucinelli. “I also care about the way a company treats the people who make it. We live in the information age and anyone can learn about the practices behind all our products.”

Below, five quality cashmere brands, plus tips on the care and maintenance of your cashmere knit.

Brunello Cucinelli

Raised neutrals:

Brunello Cucinelli

Known as the king of cashmere, Brunello Cucinelli makes the best neutral knits in the game—but that wasn’t always the plan. “When we first started the company, I was inspired by the great history of Benetton,” says Cucinelli. “At the time, they had been so innovative with their colored wool sweaters and memorable advertising campaigns. That’s partly why I chose to create our first collection in bright orange and red hues.” (No one was making colorful cashmere back then.) “As we developed our brand and added more items to create a total look for men and women, we moved away from lighter tones and found that our aesthetic is best captured in a range of nature and soil. tones,” he says. “This brought our brown, beige and gray objects to become true signatures of our brand.”

One of the first things I did when I started our business was visit Mongolia. I wanted to understand the origins of cashmere and make sure that humans and goats (whose fur provides the raw material) all lived under reasonable conditions and worked in a balanced environment between nature and production. I never wanted to cause harm while building my business and that had to be a focal point from the source of the sweaters. Mongolia is a special place, a country where farmers live in perfect synergy with their surroundings and are able to treat nature with so much respect. – Cucinelli

Brunello Cucinelli

  1. Brunello Cucinelli

  2. Brunello Cucinelli

OFF MODEL: Brunello Cucinelli sweater, Brunello Cucinelli, $9,800;

Brunello Cucinelli

Photos courtesy of Brunello Cucinelli. All items are available at the Brunello Cucinelli boutique, SoHo.

  1. Brunello Cucinelli

  2. Brunello Cucinelli

  3. Brunello Cucinelli

G. Label

Modern classics:

G. Label

When Gwyneth first conceived of an in-house fashion line, the idea was to create designer-quality closet staples at direct-to-consumer prices. Knitwear is consistently a top-selling category for G. Label—which, according to goop’s SVP of supply chain and production, Mari Popovics, likely has a lot to do with sentiment. “Goop cashmere is incredibly soft because it’s combed,” she says. “The goats we use are combed twice a year in time with the weather, so we don’t leave them cold or hot in the wrong season.” And then there are the silhouettes (timeless), the colors (versatile) and the three little words that everyone loves to hear: made in Italy.


  1. G. Label

  2. G. Label

off model: G. LABEL OF GOOP LC OVERSIZE CARDIGAN, goop, $595;

Maria McManus


Maria McManus

Ever mindful of her line’s environmental impact, Maria McManus uses a special blend of recycled cashmere and GOTS-certified cotton that is free of the harmful chemicals common in textile processing. It’s a win-win. “The cotton makes the cashmere stronger and more transitional, easier to wear both spring/summer and autumn/winter…” says the designer. “The hand is very similar to conventional cashmere, but maybe not quite as airy. It has a slightly more sporty look, which I personally love.”

In order to create a more sustainable procurement strategy around the production of cashmere, we need to embrace recycling and regenerating the vast amounts of cashmere we have already created over the past 20 years. – McManus

  1. Maria McManus

  2. Maria McManus


Loro Piana

Luxe Loungewear:

Loro Piana

Loro Piana’s new Cocooning collection—an aptly named line of cozy petticoats, flowy cardigans, matching sets and thigh-high socks, done in a soothing palette of cream, taupe and peach—makes a slow morning or a Saturday night even more indulgent. And if you have to step out? A fuzzy bag and boots from the innovative CashFur line, which uses cashmere and silk to mimic the look and feel of shearling.

LORO PIANA SKIRT, Loro Piana, $2,250

  1. Loro Piana

  2. Loro Piana

  3. Loro Piana

off model: LORO PIANA CARDIGAN, Loro Piana, $3,225;
LORO PIANA DRESS, Loro Piana, $2,750;
LORO PIANA BOOTS, Loro Piana, $2,400

Lisa Yang

Softness from head to toe:

Lisa Yang

A wardrobe made entirely of cashmere: that’s the concept behind Lisa Yang’s eponymous line. It includes everything from the basics (sweaters and scarves) to more surprising pieces, like structured shorts and knitted bags. Yang grew up in China (“not far from where these cashmere fibers come from,” she points out) and has spent most of her adult life in Sweden. This dual heritage is evident in her designs: “There are influences from Scandinavian minimalism, but I really enjoy introducing patterns and rich textures that take me back to the heritage of Chinese society,” she says.

  1. Lisa Yang

  2. Lisa Yang

off model: LISA YANG CARDIGAN, goop, $890;

Maintenance of cashmere

The use sweater comb to gently remove any pilling – if you do this regularly, your knits will look nicer for longer. How about cleaning it? “No need to wash after every use,” says McManus. “Hand wash with a mild detergent and cold water. Do not wring dry; instead, gently squeeze out the water, then lay flat on a towel.” She also recommends dry cleaning once a year to prevent moth holes. To further minimize the risk of moths, the Loro Piana team suggests storing your clean, folded cashmere items with cedar blocks.

We hope you enjoy the products recommended here. Our goal is to only suggest things we love and think you might too. We also like transparency, so full disclosure: We may collect a share of sales or other compensation if you purchase through the external links on this page.

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