When it comes to soft and luxurious fabrics, pashmina and cashmere are two of the best. But if you’re trying to decide between the two, you may be wondering what the difference is between the two. After all, they both come from goats, so they should be pretty similar, right? There are some slight differences between the two. That’s why I’ve created this guide to pashmina vs cashmere to help you understand these differences.
Pashmina is a type of cashmere that comes from a specific type of goat, while cashmere can come from a variety of different goats. Since pashmina only comes from one type of goat, it is more expensive and softer and warmer than cashmere. Cashmere is still soft and warm but slightly more durable and less expensive than pashmina.
So is pashmina better than cashmere or vice-versa? Well, it just depends. In this article, I’ll share the differences between the two fabrics in more detail. We’ll also look at the pros and cons of each fabric type so that you can decide for yourself which one is better.
Pashmina vs Cashmere: Key Points
Pashmina and cashmere are natural fabrics that come from the fur of the same animal, so they behave pretty similar in terms of their characteristics. In the case of these two fabrics, the fur from the particular goat is what makes all the difference. I’ve provided a brief overview of some of these differences in this chart.
What is Pashmina?
Pashmina is a natural fabric that comes from a particular breed of alpine goats. These goats can be found in Asia around the Himalayan mountain regions of Tibet, Nepal, and India. The goats have been herded for centuries in order to collect their fur for clothing and other garments. One of the first recorded uses of pashmina was when Napoleon gave his wife a shawl made out of pashmina.
The name pashmina comes from the Persian word “pashm,” a word that translates to mean “soft gold.” The fabric itself is incredibly soft and was treated as a luxury. It was very prized and soft after by those who are wealthy or considered royalty. A lot of true pashmina fabric is hand-woven, sometimes with intricate designs and patterns.
Today, there are still true pashmina fabrics out there that are still expensive and luxurious. However, there are also many cheaper or fake versions of pashmina that aren’t made out of 100% pashmina fibers. Instead, the fibers are mixed with silk or nylon, which are stronger and more durable. And some are just normal cashmere that is marketed as pashmina.
What is Cashmere?
Cashmere also comes from alpine goats that are found in the Himalayan regions of Asia. But unlike pashmina, cashmere fabric isn’t exclusive to a certain type of goat. Rather, it can be taken from various types of goats that live in areas like Tibet, Nepal, India, Mongolia, and Pakistan. Cashmere has been harvested from these goats for centuries.
The name cashmere comes from the region where the fur was first made into a fabric. The region is known as Kashmir and it is located between India, China, and Pakistan. One of the areas in this region is known as Ladakh, where a large number of pashmina goats are found as well.
Today cashmere is a popular fabric for sweaters and scarves, particularly in fall and winter fashion lines. However, 100% pure cashmere is still expensive. There are synthetic versions of cashmere or even fabrics that are a mixture of cashmere and synthetic fibers. These versions of cashmere tend to be less expensive than their 100% natural counterparts.
What’s the Difference Between Pashmina and Cashmere?
As previously mentioned, pashmina and cashmere both refer to fabric made from the fur of goats. The difference, however, lies in the specific goat that the fur is harvested from. Pashmina is a type of cashmere, but all cashmere isn’t pashmina.
The exact goat that pashmina comes from is called the Changthangi goat. The name Changthangi comes from the Changthang region, a mountainous area that extends into India. In this area, harvesting the fibers from the pashmina goat is the main source of income for the people who live there.
Cashmere, on the other hand, comes from various Himalayan mountain goats- the pashmina goat included. It doesn’t come from a specific breed of goat, rather a type of goat. Cashmere goats are more widespread than the Changthangi goat. More countries produce cashmere fabric today, including Turkey, Afghanistan, Australia, and New Zealand that aren’t part of the original Kashmir region.
How It’s Made
Pashmina and cashmere are both made in pretty much the same way. For starters, both types of fibers are collected in the spring. This is because temperatures in the mountainous regions can drop into negative temperatures in the winter. The goats will grow a thick coat of fur to keep them warm.
Spring is the perfect time to harvest the fur because the goats no longer need it. It could make the goats too hot as temperatures warm up during summer. Shearing the fur is also beneficial to the goats’ health, as it keeps the fur from getting tangled and matted.
Once the fur is collected, it has to be sorted and cleaned. Then, the individual fibers are spun into yarn and the yarns are woven together to create fabric. The fabric can be left as is, but since it is naturally white or gray, it is then dyed in different colors.
But here is where the difference comes in. Pashmina fibers are a little finer and thinner than cashmere. Because of this, they can’t handle being spun or woven by a machine as cashmere can because the fibers could break. Pashmina is usually spun by hand to create the fabric.
Natural fabrics tend to be softer than synthetic ones, and pashmina and cashmere are two of the softest fabrics in the world. This is because the fur that is used to make the fabric comes from the undercoat of the coat. The undercoat is softer since it is closer to the skin.
Although the two fabrics are both very soft, there is a slight difference and it all has to do with the individual fibers themselves. Since the fibers from the pashmina goat are finer and thinner than the fibers from other cashmere goats, pashmina is slightly softer than cashmere.
Don’t get me wrong; cashmere is still very soft. But the fibers that come from other cashmere goats are a little bigger and thicker than pashmina fibers are. That means that although soft, cashmere fabric that isn’t pashmina will feel a little bit more coarse.
Size of Fibers
I’ve already mentioned that pashmina fibers are a little finer than other types of cashmere fibers. The size of the fibers makes all the difference in terms of the characteristics of the fabric. Since individual fibers are very small, they are measured in microns. More specifically, a micron is used to measure the diameter of the fibers.
Pashmina fibers are considered to be very fine. They generally range between 10 and 16 microns. Cashmere fibers are slightly larger and usually range between 16 and 19 microns. Although the two sizes are only slightly different, they can affect the two fabrics’ strength, softness, and warmth.
Because the area where the goats typically live gets very cold, especially in the winter, obviously the two fibers are very warm. And since they are both made from the goat’s undercoat, they are very insulating as well.
Both fabrics should be warm enough to wear with no or very few other layers. However, it’s important to again look at the size of the fibers. Since cashmere fibers are a little thicker than pashmina, cashmere tends to be a little warmer. But the softness of pashmina helps to make it warm as well.
One of the few negatives of pashmina and cashmere is that they are considered delicate fibers. The small size of their fibers means that they aren’t the strongest fabrics out there. That’s why they can both be damaged easily.
But remember that pashmina has to be spun by hand to create fabric. The fibers are so thin that they can break very easily. Cashmere fibers are slightly thicker and bigger. That means that cashmere is slightly stronger and more durable, although it is still considered delicate.
Ease of Care
Since pashmina and cashmere are considered delicate fabrics, you shouldn’t wash them in the washing machine as you would other fabrics. One of the reasons for this is that they both can snag easily. You shouldn’t wash them with clothing that has zippers, fasteners, and embellishments. With that being said, it’s also a good idea to avoid wearing necklaces and other jewelry when you wear pashmina or cashmere.
Another issue with cashmere fabrics is that they are prone to pilling. Washing the fabric in the washing machine can only make this problem worse. And any kind of chemicals such as fabric softener, lotion, or perfume can also interfere with the qualities of the fabric.
The best way to wash pashmina and cashmere is to hand-wash it after every two or three wears. It is unnecessary to wash it after every wear as this can cause the fabric to fade, pill, or lose some of its softness. These two fabrics can also be dry-cleaned if you only wear them occasionally. But since dry-cleaning uses chemicals, it is not a good idea to have it dry cleaned too often.
Follow these steps to learn how to properly care for cashmere fabrics.
- When hand-washing pashmina or cashmere, always use cool or cold water. Using water that is too hot can cause shrinking or cause the color to fade.
- It is also recommended to use a mild detergent or a detergent made for wool fabrics. If you don’t have either, you can also use baby shampoo.
- During washing, avoid wringing out the fabric because it can lose shape. Instead, you will want to gently squeeze out excess water.
- After the fabric has been washed, lay it out flat on a towel. Roll up the towel and gently press on the fabric. The towel will soak up any remaining water.
- Lay it flat on another dry towel or place it on a drying rack. Don’t hang it up to dry because it could lose its shape. Never put pashmina or cashmere in the dryer as it could shrink.
When you aren’t wearing cashmere fabrics, it is important to store them properly. They should never be hung up, even if they are dry. Instead, fold them and place them somewhere by themselves for the best protection. If you aren’t going to wear them for a while like during the summer, keep them in a breathable storage container and place the container somewhere that stays cool and dry.
Another downside to both of these fabrics is the cost. Both are expensive because it takes a significant amount of fur to make the fabric and the fur can only be harvested once per year. Also, the goats that pashmina and cashmere come from are only found in certain parts of the world.
With that being said, pashmina is the most expensive type of cashmere. This is because the fabric is less available since the goats are only found in one general area. Other cashmere fabric that isn’t pashmina is more widely available, so it tends to be cheaper than pashmina. However, cashmere is still less available than fabrics like cotton, so it is still expensive.
There are many synthetic cashmere products on the market today that are either made from entirely synthetic fibers or a mixture of cashmere and synthetic fibers. These synthetic cashmere products will be cheaper and more durable than pure cashmere. However, some of the softness and warmth will be lost.
Due to the warmth that these fabrics provide, they are both typically used for winter clothing and accessories. Since pashmina is rarer and expensive, it is usually used for smaller garments or things that don’t have as much heavy use. You can find scarves, shawls, and even blankets that are made from pashmina.
Cashmere is slightly more durable, so it has more uses. Clothing that sees more heavy use, such as sweaters, socks, and hats, can be made out of cashmere. There are often scarves and blankets made out of cashmere as well. But since both of these fabrics are so warm, you may not even need additional layers when you wear them.
Pros and Cons of Pashmina
Now that you know more details about the characteristics of pashmina fabric let’s do a quick review of its pros and cons. One of the positive things about pashmina is that it is a natural fabric, which gives it better qualities. It is also one of the softest and warmest fabrics and is considered to be luxurious.
However, it does have its downsides. Because it is considered to be luxurious, it is also one of the most expensive fabrics. It is also less available than other natural fabrics like cotton and other types of wool. Lastly, it is a delicate fabric, which means that it isn’t as durable and requires special care.
Pros and Cons of Cashmere
Cashmere also has its fair share of positives and negatives. Since it comes from goats just like pashmina does, it is also a natural fabric. But since cashmere can be harvested from other types of goats besides just one, it is more available than pashmina is. This makes it less expensive when compared to pashmina. It is also a little thicker and therefore warmer and more durable.
However, one of the negatives of cashmere is that even though it is slightly more durable than cashmere, it is still considered a delicate fabric. It also requires special care. Lastly, cashmere is still one of the more expensive fabrics because the fibers used to make it can only be collected once per year.
Which Is Better: Pashmina or Cashmere?
It can be difficult to decide which one is better when you weigh the overall pros and cons. After all, they are both expensive and are more high-maintenance than other types of fabrics. They are also both very soft and warm. But if you are trying to decide between the two, consider the cost and what type of garment you are purchasing.
For example, if you are buying a sweater, then cashmere is a great choice because it is more durable. You are likely to wear it more than you would a sweater made out of pashmina, so you are more likely to get your money’s worth. Pashmina would be a good choice if you were looking for a scarf. It will be lightweight and still keep you warm. It will also be less likely to become dirty since you are more likely to take it off indoors.
Popular Products Made of Pashmina
Women’s Pashmina ScarfAlthough it isn’t made from real pashmina fur, this scarf is made from a blend of viscose and modal, so it still has that soft pashmina feel. And since it is made from these materials, it is also more durable and less expensive. It is still recommended that you hand-wash it, but you can also wash it in the washing machine on the gentle cycle if necessary.
This scarf comes in 8 different colors and is large enough to be used as a scarf or a shawl. It also has that soft pashmina texture on both sides, so it is reversible if necessary. And it is lightweight, yet warm so you can wear it even on chilly spring and fall days.
Popular Products Made of Cashmere
Men’s Cashmere CardiganThis men’s cardigan is made from 100% cashmere. It is warm enough to wear on its own over another shirt, but it could be worn under a coat if necessary.
It comes in 6 different colors and 7 different sizes. In traditional cardigan style, it buttons up the front and has two front pockets.
When caring for this cardigan, it is best to hand-wash it.
Women’s Cashmere SweaterThis long-sleeved women’s sweater is made out of 100% cashmere.
The sweater itself will be warm enough, but the turtleneck will help to keep your neck warm as well.
It comes in 17 colors, so whether you prefer neutral or brighter colors, you’re sure to find a color you like.
It also comes in standard, petite, and plus-sizes. It is hand-wash only.
I hope this guide helped you to better understand the differences between pashmina and cashmere. Remember that pashmina refers to a specific type of cashmere, and it is a little bit softer than other cashmere fabrics. But both of these fabrics are very soft and will keep you warm if you’re willing to put forth the required expense and care. If you enjoyed this article, share it and leave a comment.