Cashmere, a luxurious and highly coveted material in the fashion industry, is derived from the soft undercoat of the cashmere goat. This exquisite wool is harvested during the spring moulting season when the goats naturally shed their undercoat.

Cashmere is celebrated for its exceptional softness, warmth, and durability, making it a popular choice for various high-end products such as sweaters, scarves, shawls, and blankets.

Its association with luxury and fashion has surged in recent years, driven by a growing interest in sustainable and natural materials.

The Historical Roots of Cashmere

The origins of cashmere trace back to the ancient region of Kashmir, now part of modern-day India and Pakistan. Initially, cashmere was a closely guarded secret known only to a select few in this region.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that cashmere made its way to Europe, quickly becoming a favourite among the wealthy elite. Today, cashmere production spans several countries, including Mongolia, China, Scotland, and Nepal.

Global Cashmere Production

Cashmere is produced in several countries, but some stand out more than others. The top producers are Mongolia, India, China, Iran, Afghanistan, and Kazakhstan. Mongolia is the largest producer, making over 50% of the world’s cashmere. China is the second-largest producer, followed by Iran, Afghanistan, and Kazakhstan.

The quality and quantity of cashmere can vary greatly depending on the country of origin:

  • Mongolia: Renowned for the highest quality cashmere, Mongolian cashmere is incredibly soft, warm, and durable. The country’s harsh climate, characterized by long, cold winters, creates the ideal conditions for cashmere goats to develop thick undercoats.
  • China: While China produces a large quantity of cashmere, the quality often falls short of that produced in Mongolia. The cashmere from China, especially Inner Mongolia, can still be of high quality but is generally less consistent.
  • Iran, Afghanistan, and Kazakhstan: These countries also produce cashmere, but their quality is typically lower than that of Mongolian cashmere.

What Factors Influence The Cashmere Quality

Several factors affect cashmere production and quality:

  • Climate: Colder, drier climates are conducive to producing high-quality cashmere.
  • Breeding and Management: Proper breeding and goat management practices can enhance both the quality and quantity of cashmere.
  • Harvesting and Processing: Traditional hand-combing methods, such as those used in the Ladakh region of India, are preferred for producing high-quality cashmere. In contrast, machine-shearing methods, commonly used in China, can damage the fibres.

Country-Specific Cashmere Characteristics


Mongolian cashmere is famous for its extremely fine fibres. This high quality is due to the harsh climate, which helps produce incredibly soft and warm cashmere.

China (Inner Mongolia)

Certain areas in China, especially Inner Mongolia, produce excellent cashmere. The high quality comes from the region’s specific environmental conditions and effective breeding practices, resulting in fine and soft fibres.

India (Himalayan Region of Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir)

The Himalayan region, particularly Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir, offers several unique advantages for cashmere production:

  • Extreme Weather Conditions: The severe cold and harsh weather in Ladakh led to the growth of cashmere goats with dense, soft undercoats, producing finer and softer fibres.
  • High Altitude: The high altitude contributes to superior quality cashmere. Goats bred here produce longer and finer fibres.
  • Natural Grazing: Goats in Ladakh graze on natural vegetation, which enhances the quality and purity of the cashmere.
  • Traditional Herding Methods: Local herders use traditional methods that ensure the well-being of the goats, resulting in healthier animals and better quality cashmere.
  • Cultural Expertise: The expertise of local artisans, passed down through generations, ensures the highest quality in handling, collecting, and processing the fibres.

These factors make cashmere from Ladakh in the Himalayan region exceptionally fine, soft, and highly sought after for its luxurious feel and warmth.


Scottish cashmere is known for its luxurious feel and consistent softness. The cool, damp climate in Scotland helps produce high-quality cashmere. Traditional methods, like hand-combing and hand-knitting, contribute to its superior quality.

However, Scottish cashmere is more expensive compared to other countries due to the labour-intensive traditional methods used. Additionally, the small size of the industry means Scottish cashmere products are not widely available.


Nepalese cashmere is recognized for its softness and warmth. The high altitudes where the goats are raised produce thicker undercoats with longer fibres. Traditional hand-combing and hand-weaving methods ensure high quality.

The production of Nepalese cashmere is limited, making it less available. The traditional methods also increase the cost, making Nepalese cashmere more expensive and premium in quality than those from other countries.

A Country-By-Country Breakdown of Cashmere Products


Cashmere Products Made in Mongolia: Mongolia produces a variety of cashmere items, such as scarves, shawls, sweaters, and coats. These products are made using traditional hand-knitting and weaving techniques, ensuring high quality.

Quality of Mongolian Cashmere Products: Mongolian cashmere is renowned for its softness, warmth, and durability. The high-quality fibres and traditional production methods result in luxurious and long-lasting products.


Cashmere Products Made in China: As the world’s largest producer of cashmere, China offers a wide range of products, including scarves, shawls, sweaters, coats, and even bedding. The quality of these products varies significantly, with some manufacturers producing excellent quality and others making lower-quality items.

Cost and Quality: Chinese cashmere products are often more affordable compared to those from other countries, making them a popular choice for budget-conscious buyers. However, the variability in quality means that consumers should be selective when purchasing.

Kashmir (India)

Cashmere from the Himalayan Region: The highlands of the Himalayan region, especially Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir, India, produce some of the finest cashmere. This cashmere is highly valued for its exceptional softness, warmth, and lightness. The unique climate and traditional production methods in this region contribute to its superior quality.


Cashmere Products Made in Nepal: Nepal produces a range of cashmere items such as scarves, shawls, sweaters, and blankets. Known for their warmth, softness, and durability, these hand-crafted products are highly sought after.

Quality and Craftsmanship: Nepalese cashmere products are typically more expensive due to the traditional methods used in their production. The unique texture and high quality of these items make them a favourite among consumers who appreciate fine craftsmanship.


Cashmere stands out for its unparalleled softness, warmth, and elegance. While several countries produce high-quality cashmere, Mongolia, China, Kashmir (India), and Nepal are particularly renowned for their exceptional products. Each region has its unique strengths, from Mongolia’s fine fibres and traditional craftsmanship to Nepal’s hand-crafted, high-altitude cashmere.

However, for those seeking the finest cashmere with unique qualities, the Himalayan region of Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir, India, offers an exceptional choice. Here, the harsh climate, high altitude, and traditional herding methods produce some of the world’s most luxurious cashmere.

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