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The Best Cashmere Sweaters for Men at Every Budget

Good cashmere isn't as expensive as it used to be, which means there are solid options available at both ends of the spectrum.

collage of three sweaters

Over the past couple of centuries, cashmere has earned a reputation as one of the top luxury fibers for sweaters. And it's not unwarranted. The material is a mainstay in most brands's catalogs, both because it's soft and warm but also because it's refined and flattering.

What Is Cashmere?

Cashmere is incredibly soft, very warm and not as abundant as other animal fibers like sheep’s wool. Cashmere is shorn from the undercoat of cashmere (Kashmir) goats when they enter the molting season.

Because cashmere is shorn from the undercoat, the yield per goat is small, requiring two cashmere goats to produce a single sweater. The wool produced by these special goats results in an extremely fine fiber with about the same thickness of ultra-fine merino and a considerable jump in price.

Want to know more about wool? Read our guide to the 10 types of wool you need to know.

Why Does It Cost More? And, Is Affordable Cashmere a Myth?

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 $200. Legacy brands are making their own attempts at affordable cashmere, too, though. See: J.Crew and Banana Republic joining the fight.

"Where you’ll see the difference is if you have beautiful long-fiber cashmere," Jeffrey Silberman, the chairperson of the Textile Development and Marketing Department at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City says. "It’s going to feel better, it’s going to look better and it’s going to clean better because it’s not going to lint out fibers. The shorter, coarser cashmere is going to lend itself to the cheaper products."

For apparel companies, shorter cashmere is cheaper to buy, cheaper to process and still allows for the "100% Cashmere" label. Few companies offering affordable cashmere actually reveal the staple length of fibers used in the yarns of the sweaters.

Why Wear Cashmere

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, especially since cashmere production is expanding from just China and Mongolia to Turkey, Iran and India.

But it's the Mongolian mindset most folks shoulder consider when weighing whether they should invest in cashmere or not. There, cashmere is a utilitarian material — something everyone wears, both to keep warm and use what's available to them.

Interested in the material's evolution? Read our guide to cashmere.

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