When it comes to fabrics, cashmere is as luxurious as it gets. But how did it come to be one of the most coveted materials around? Let’s dive into a brief cashmere history.
Professor Aldred Barker, a professor of Textile Industries at Leeds University, deemed Kashmir — a region on the northwestern Indian subcontinent, split between India and Pakistan — as the producer of the “most narcotic and beautiful fabrics the world has ever seen.” Barker attributed the mesmerizing skills of Kashmiri craftsmen to the peaceful isolation of the region from the hustle and bustle of Indian city streets. He wrote, “The surroundings of Srinagar are so beautiful, that it would be surprising if some sort of artistic craftsmanship were not developed there.”
At this time and long before, the lore of Kashmiri fabric had made its way around the world. Kashmiri fabric was wound into turbans in Cairo, stitched into clothing in Tehran, embellished into sashes in Tibet, and worn as skirts by women in Calcutta to Rome. Even novelists in Victorian Britain became obsessed with the fabric. The term “cashmere” as we know it today was in fact derived from 18th century English spelling of Kashmir. The new spelling disregarded the fabric’s origin place and disassociated the material from the East India Company and British colonial occupation. At that point, cashmere had become synonymous with highly coveted, divine fabrics.
Grand Odalisque, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1814)
Innovations in technology quickly allowed Cashmere to rival Kashmir. Designers in the Scottish town of Paisley began riffing and improving on the material in new forms, which led to consumers of Paisley’s fabrics spreading the word on Cashmere’s advancements — saying the new designs were even better than its competitors in the East. French designers also used “cachemire,” positing that the material carried royal and sanctimonious connotations. In the 1990s, cashmere landed in the U.S. where American designers were crafting their own cashmere garments, and the cultural significance of the material had been widely known at the point. The rest is history!
While it is more widely accessible today, Cashmere is still known for its opulence and plush luxury. Whether as blankets, scarves, eye masks, or sweaters, there are plenty of ways to experience Cashmere’s timeless luxury — here are our favorites:
Diamond Charcoal Cashmere Throw by Slate + Salt
Handmade in Nepal from Tibetan Himalayan cashmere ethically sourced from the goat’s softest undercoat, this Diamond Cashmere Throw is incredibly soft on the skin, making it a perfect blanket or warm scarf. The monochrome diamond pattern and fringed detailing is as timeless as the material itself, making this a throw you’ll want to cherish for a lifetime.
Unisex Trimmed Wool and Cashmere Wrap by Quinn
This Wool and Cashmere Wrap by Quinn is made using high-quality sustainable cashmere and warm wool, perfect for staying cozy (and stylish) during the winter months. The Wrap features a minimal and modern trim and comes in neutral black and grey colorways that guarantee it’ll complement any outfit. Wear it as a layering piece of use it as a blanket as the temperatures drop!
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A staple in everyone’s wardrobe, a beautifully made cashmere scarf will never go out of style. This Cashmere Scarf by Quinn is made of 100% cashmere, ethically sourced from Inner Magnolia, where goat breeders truly care for their animals. Featuring a classic heathered design that’s neutral enough to pair well with any look, the Florence Scarf makes for a thoughtful and luxurious gift idea for yourself or someone special.
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Cashmere Travel Blanket and Eye Mask by Quinn
A must for long haul flights, road trips, or naps at home, Quinn’s Cashmere Travel Blanket and Eye Mask is sure to keep you comfortable. Complete with a 100% cashmere blanket and matching eye mask and featuring a duo-toned design, this set is perfect for anyone who wants to rest in style.
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Herringbone Cashmere Scarf by Slate + Salt
This Herringbone Cashmere Scarf is perfectly oversized — giving you the flexibility to wear it bundled up as a scarf, layered for cold evenings, or wrapped around you as a blanket. Made of grade A Himalayan cashmere, this timeless scarf has a neutral look that pairs well with any ensemble and can be worn by anyone!
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Written by Alexa Morales