Viscose Pashmina, Acrylic Pashmina, Silk Pashmina, Wool Pashmina… we keep hearing so many different terms from fashion companies and vendors that use the word Pashmina, just to make a cheap product look royal and cool. The Pashmina knowledge of these vendors is as little as the knowledge of buyers who buy these products and then sport them as Pashmina. What is Pashmina? Its a heritage of Himalayas that does not need a material name in front of it to be cool. It is a royalty in itself. Made with the finest cashmere nature provides us, woven by expert craftsmen/women on handlooms and dyed carefully in cold flowing water, each Pashmina is a work of art and passion.If you are looking to buy a cheap 10 dollar scarf called Pashmina by some vendors, you are in fact belittling a heritage that is build over many years by many families in Himalayan Region of Asia.
However its also not true that real Pashmina has to be very expensive always. It all depends on the quality of Cashmere yarn used to make the fabric. Cashmere thread ranges from 12 to 18 microns thickness depending on the hair used to make it. If hair comes from the neck and belly of baby goats it is only 12-14 microns thick, it is most softest and thinnest so makes for a costilest item – $300 and above. However hair that comes from an adult goat’s underbelly is about 14-18 microns thick and Pashmina made by this hair are available for a decent price (under $100). It also depends on brand, a big store will charge much higher even for an adult goat hair Pashmina than a small store with less overheads. An embroidered or Jacquard weave will cost more due to work involved in making it.
How to test a real Pashmina? – True Cashmere Pashmina is very soft and resists wrinkles. The single ply Pashmina is so soft and thin it can easily pass through a wedding ring and still show no wrinkles or signs of distress. Most of the genuine Pashmina dealers will tell the buyers how to look for the real Cashmere Pashmina. The Cashmere thread in the Pashmina can be tested by burning few strands of it. While burning, Cashmere strands give a sulphuric smell and reduce into very small balls which when cold will crumble easily into a powder. This is due to the fact that Cashmere is hair and is primarily calcium. On the contrary, viscose burns like plastic thread, very fast and without leaving any residue or smell. A true Pashmina lover will quickly find out if a Pashmina is real or not.
There are many other tell tale signs as well. Pashminas are hand made on looms so their weave is not very close, infact on the edge of the fabric, one can separate the threads since they are woven lightly. Cashmere thread is very dull even after dyeing so pure Cashmere does not shine. It’s weave is also fairly open since it is woven on a handloom.
its common to blend another fine natural thread like silk with cashmere and create a Cashmere Silk Pashmina that provides warmth of Cashmere and the luster of silk. Such Pashminas are very common now days. The more the silk, the cheaper a Pashmina gets. Generally 70% Cashmere and 30% Silk is most common blend, however to make a nice shiny scarf, a 50/50 combination is also quite popular. If only one Ply of Cashmere (either mixed with silk or pure cashmere) is used to make a fabric it results in a fine fabric that passes through a ring and is called a Ring Pashmina (sometimes also known as water Pashmina).