Cashmere and merino wool have long been favourites in the luxury clothing industry. Still, there is often ambiguity about what these materials are and whether one is better than the other. Merino and cashmere are natural fibres that certain animals produce in the form of a woolly pelt.
Both cashmere and merino are known for their softness & quality. However, there is often some ambiguity between the two. In this guide, we're going to discuss some of the key differences between these much-loved wools and help you make the right choice for your wardrobe this winter.
What is merino wool?
Merino is a type of wool that comes from a specific breed of sheep called the merino sheep. It has many similarities to regular sheep's wool, though the individual fibres are a much finer gauge and softer than you would expect from most sheep's wool.
Despite being a soft and relatively luxurious material, merino wool is still a form of sheep's wool, and this means it naturally contains lanolin. For some, lanolin causes no issues at all, but it is an irritating substance that can even provoke an allergic reaction for many.
If you have ever worn sheep's wool, including merino, and have felt sore, itchy and irritated, then it is highly likely that you have some degree of lanolin allergy. Young children, babies and those with sensitive skin are especially prone to lanolin allergies and intolerances and should avoid this kind of wool where possible.
How merino compares to cashmere
Unlike most wool on the market, cashmere is not sourced from sheep but rather the cashmere goat. It's still classed as a kind of wool, much like sheep's wool, alpaca and merino, but its fibres are beyond compare in terms of strength, softness and sheer luxury. Every piece of cashmere clothing is made from these wonderfully soft fibres. It has an insulating quality like no other, which keeps you perfectly warm or cool, depending on the weather. To read more about cashmere origins, read our guide about where cashmere comes from.
One of the key differences between cashmere and other natural woollen fibres is its scarcity. While sheep and alpacas can provide more than a kilogram of wool each year, the cashmere goat only produces about 100g of yarn in each season. This is a testament to the remarkable insulating properties of cashmere, as this amount of wool is enough to keep the goat warm throughout the harsh winters in Mongolia and the mountainous regions of India, China and Pakistan.
Is cashmere itchy?
Cashmere is considered to be far less itchy than other wools. Cashmere does not contain lanolin, so it's an entirely hypoallergenic alternative to merino and other fibres. However, cashmere is a natural yarn and this can cause mild irritation for some people. We recommend wearing an organic cotton layer underneath your cashmere knitwear if you're prone to itchiness.
Should you choose merino or cashmere clothing?
We love cashmere because it provides a luxurious wearable experience like no other, but there are plenty of other reasons to choose this premium, rare and in-demand material for your next wardrobe investment. Gram for gram, it's warmer than any other kind of wool, it guarantees a plush, rich softness to the wearer, it's also stronger, longer lasting and more durable than other woollen products, and our cashmere is machine washable at home just like every other piece of your wardrobe.