Spring is a good time to shop for warm, cozy, and fashionable attire just in time for winter. It is also the time to get busy knitting and crocheting lighter scarves, throws, and sweaters.
Anyone with an eye for the finer things in life already has the likes of mohair and cashmere on top of their fave warm textiles list. The two super fine and silky fibers have been making waves in the fashion industry for a while now.
If you are new to the duo, it’s probably because you don’t know your wool -or should we say hair – that much. Given the variety of wool and hair with similar characteristics, it is understandable to be confused.
So, what’s the difference between mohair and cashmere? The differences between mohair and cashmere begin from the sourcing to the production of the fibers. There are also slight differences in the fibers’ size and texture, but both make exquisite fine attire.
To help you expand your knowledge of mohair and cashmere, we’ve curated this post where we delve deep into the details. In the end, you’ll be able to distinguish the two.
Key Differences Between Mohair and Cashmere
Mohair and cashmere are valuable fibers associated with finery and even the wealthy (historically, anyway). Whether looking at yarn or fabric, it is easy to confuse one for the other because they bear a close resemblance.
However, the two hair types are quite different.
Among other properties they share is the fineness of their strands, a silky luster, amazing insulating properties, excellent moisture wicking properties, and being hypoallergenic, a comfy change from itchy wool.
They are also made from the same species of animal, though of different breeds. Just in case you are wondering, cashmere and mohair are not types of wool but rather animal hair.
So, what makes one unique from the other? Here are the differences between mohair and cashmere:
1. Source of the Hair
Mohair and cashmere are sourced from different goat breeds, and not sheep.
Mohair comes from the Angora goat. South Africa is the world’s largest producer, accounting for nearly half of the world’s mohair supply.
Cashmere, on the other hand, is hair from the Kashmiri/cashmere goat. Up to two-thirds of cashmere is produced and supplied by China and Mongolia.
2. Harvesting Process
The way mohair is obtained from the Angora goats is far different from how cashmere is.
With mohair, the goats are shorn with sheers – much like sheep are sheared of their wool. Although for Angora goats, there are two shearing seasons: spring and fall. The mohair is scoured, carded, and sometimes combed, much like wool.
On the contrary, cashmere hair is harvested once annually, in spring. (Cashmere goats naturally shed off their winter hair once the weather begins to warm up, anyway.)
This hair is combed out over a period of time, normally two weeks. It is then collected, cleaned, and processed. The combing process only harvests the finest undercoat hairs.
However, in a bid to do the job quickly and easily, many farmers opt to sheer the Cashmere goats. As a result, the topcoat and the undercoat get mixed up, producing a lower quality cashmere.
3. Properties of the Fibers
Another difference between mohair and cashmere is in the fiber profile.
Both are considered soft and fine, but to different degrees.
Cashmere sits at the peak of fiber softness. The undercoat provides the finest fibers with a strand diameter of between 18 and 19 microns. The extremely thin, sleek fibers make extra fine, ultra-soft, and incredibly lightweight pieces that feel pleasurable on the skin. It also has amazing heat insulation properties. One of my favorite cashmere yarns is this one.
Mohair is soft but not as soft as cashmere. The long undercoat with a defined curl pattern is silky soft. However, the sheering process messes this up. It gets this soft hair mixed with the straight coarse hairs of the gear coat affecting the overall texture. Mohair is sometimes mixed with silk to make it more soft and luxurious, like this amazing blended yarn.
Also, its fibers are not as fine as cashmere ranging between 20-40 microns in diameter. Therefore the thinner softer fibers are reserved for clothing while the thicker less soft ones are used for carpets and upholstery.
Mohair is the stronger of the two. It has longer staples that give it incredible strength than cashmere, which is slightly delicate but still strong in comparison to other fibers.
Both cashmere and mohair make for luxury fabrics associated with upmarket consumers. Mohair is, however, not as exclusive as cashmere and is slowly entering mainstream fashion, not for the first time.
Cashmere is on a different level of expensive, far more than mohair. This is partly because it is of a finer quality and partly because of the limited supply making it a rare gem.
As we said, the harvesting of mohair is once a year, and only 25% of the hair is useable. Couple that with the quantity needed to make just one sweater – the cumulative weight of up to four goats’ haircuts, and the ridiculously high price tags are justified.
Of course, there are lower-priced cashmere brands, mostly blends or a lower grade of cashmere. The quality is still relatively high, but the fibers will be less fine. Still, even these lower prices are considered high by some consumers.
Mohair and cashmere are both lavish fabrics that possess similar qualities. The biggest difference between mohair and cashmere for consumers is that cashmere is the more opulent one, being finer, softer, and more expensive. Mohair is a more affordable alternative.
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