Monday, 11 October 2010

Fabric Moment

Throughout past centuries it was always clothes that dictated your status in society.  The 21st century sees the age of counterfeit goods or as they are more commonly known, ‘knock offs’.  That handbag may have a Louis Vuitton logo printed all over it, but does that make it authentic? 

Cashmere, a fabric synonymous with status, wealth and luxury, comes from the Cashmere goat, found in Mongolia, Iran, Iraq and more recently, America.  The fibres, combed out from beneath the goats chin are longer, smoother and straighter than that of sheep’s wool.    

During the 18th century, both British and French women from wealthy upper classes had cashmere shawls imported from Kashmir and India.  They would drape these shawls around them, keeping them stylishly warm during the Neo-Classical times of short-sleeved, high-waisted dresses. 

The 19th century saw the decline in cashmere in clothing and the development into cheaper, locally made imitations, usually woven with silk.  This made cashmere less exclusive as women from different classes could now afford the so-called luxury.

Designer Shirin Guild, brought back the use of cashmere during the 1980’s when sheep’s wool was used extensively for knitwear, advocating cashmere as a luxurious fabric once again.   

Cashmere is still around today in high street firms such as Marks and Spencer’s in jumpers, cardigans and pashminas.  Many high street stores claim to sell 100% cashmere garments, but always check the label, as you never know where a ‘knock off’ may appear.   

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