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Cashmere, Decoded

Here's how to choose—and where to buy—the season’s best cashmere sweaters.

Loro Piana Zegna cashmere Photo: Joshua Scott

When it comes to picking up a fresh cashmere sweater, the options can feel endless. And how do you really tell the difference between one navy sweater and the next, especially when you’re shopping online? Well, we’ve gone through the trouble for you. Read on to discover the two brands that are pulling out all stylish stops this season, and—should you choose to go it alone—how to pick a sweater that will stay cozy (and look sharp) for years to come.

Loro Piana

Loro Piana’s baby cashmere (sweaters priced from $1,325, shown above on the left) is all grown up. This year, the Italian house celebrates the 10th anniversary of its ultra-luxe fabric made from the thin fibers found underneath the fleece of  Mongolia’s Capra hircus baby goats. Mountain herders can only source the fibers one month per year, resulting in just 4,400 pounds of the precious fabric per season—and not nearly enough of these impossibly soft sweaters to go around.

Ermenegildo Zegna

Nestled in the hills of Biella in the northern Italian town of Trivero lies Ermenegildo Zegna’s sprawling Lanificio Zegna wool mill, where the label has been crafting fabrics for 108 years. Its latest invention is Oasi Cashmere, which is sustainably dyed using natural colors extracted from flowers, herbs, wood, leaves, and roots (British cashmere brand N.Peal uses a similar sustainable process) and named after the expansive nature preserve owned by Zegna in the mountains surrounding the mill. Just in time for fall, the innovation is the secret sauce in Zegna’s new collection of versatile and vibrant sweaters—we’d suggest pairing them with toned-down separates (perhaps with a neutral blazer in an equally-soft cashmere) to keep all the focus on the feel-good, saturated striped and deep ochre styles ($1,395 and  $1,095)

Pro Tip: How to Choose a Quality Cashmere

Long and thin fibers are the key
to soft yet durable cashmere that doesn’t pill. Look for fibers that are around 40 mm long and 15 microns wide to ensure top quality. You can also assess your cashmere’s worth with a touch test: Move your hand over the fabric to see
if the fibers roll up. If they do,
the cashmere may be made from lower-quality fibers that wear more quickly.

 

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