Over the past couple of centuries, cashmere has earned a reputation as one of the top luxury fibers for knitwear. It’s not unwarranted. Cashmere — the fine undercoat fibers of the cashmere goat — is incredibly soft, very warm and not as abundant as other animal fibers like sheep’s wool. While many cashmere sweaters cost in excess of $500, (and it’s not surprising to see examples eclipsing $1,000), there has, in recent years, been an influx of affordable cashmere sweaters on the market. Most of these sweaters are produced by relatively young brands and top out at $100. Legacy brands are making their own attempts at affordable cashmere, too. See: J. Crew and Banana Republic joining the fight.
All of the sweaters you see here adhere to certain quality standards, for animals, the actual manufacturing processes, and the people that tend to both. No longer is cashmere a fiber exclusive to the filthy rich. Find your next favorite sweater below.
This sweater is made from Grade A Mongolian cashmere (fibers that are 15.1 microns thick and 35mm long) and weighs 240 grams. It's available in seven versatile colors and comes in sizes S through XL. What's more? Quince offers free standard shipping and a year of free returns. Hard to beat that.
Along with offering 11 colors, Everlane is the most transparent about its Cashmere Crew sweater. The company will happily tell you that it’s knit in Dongguan, China and even show you the factory on its website. Everlane is more than willing to share that they use Grade-A cashmere from Inner Mongolia, and that the fibers it uses are the longest (35 millimeters) and finest (15 micron) fibers, so that the sweaters are durable, pill less, and get softer with wear. And if you’re in the market for something with a bit more weight, the brand also offers a heavyweight version of this sweater for $10 more.
Naadam produces some of the more affordable cashmere sweaters available and still manages to give a wide variety of choices. The crewneck version of the Essential $75 Cashmere Sweater comes in nine colors and the v-neck comes in a staggering 18 colors. Unlike other brands, Naadam discloses that it sources all of its cashmere from Mongolia and knits its sweaters in China. The light-midweight 12-gauge knit is breathable and has one of the softest handfeels out of the box.
J.Crew’s Cashmere Crewneck sweater comes in 12 colors and costs just over $100 — and it's made from certified Mongolian cashmere. It has a more substantial-feeling knit than some of the other more affordable brands offer. Available in sizes X-Small to XX-Large, it features a standard fit that will complement a range of personal styles. The brand has democratized cashmere as it has already successfully done with the rest of the American wardrobe.
Gentle Herd is another sustainability and transparency success story. They've assessed every step in their processes for overhaul — and made many big switches. Most notably, they ensure no animals are harmed during the making of their items, that herders are paid a fair wage, and farms are fair-trade certified. Sure, these aren't $65, but there's quality that backs up the $175 tag.
Italic's emerged as a go-to destination for transparently priced goods — across the board, too. They make everything from ski accessories and sheets to sweaters and sneakers, and sell it all at just about what it costs to manufacture. The company used to only be accessible to members, who paid fees to cover the company's overhead, but they've waived the paywall permanently as of a few weeks ago.
Here's another way to make your cashmere sweater more affordable: use recycled cashmere (and mix it with wool). Madewell's (Re)Sourced Donegal Sweater is a soft and sustainable layer — at a smart price.
Banana Republic is cool again! With this newfound popularity, they're cashing in on cashmere. But they are scamming you, I promise. For $150 you get a sweatshirt-style sweater (see the neck?) made from ultra-soft, 100-percent cashmere. It comes in six colors, and just in time for fall.
Sheep Inc's iteration is the priciest on this list, but for good reason. Each sweater is not only soft but equipped with a small NFC tag that lets the wearer trace the material back to a particular farm. Plus, the little chip lets you track the very flock of sheep the farm hosts, creating a transparent through-line all the way back to the source.