Pashmina is a fine variant of cashmere derived from the Changthangi goat, not by shearing it (like all other types of wool), but by combing the goat. The main center for production is Srinagar where the spinning, weaving and finishing of Pashmina is all done by hand.
Pure pashmina is an open, gauzy kind of weave as it cannot tolerate high tension. It's thus normally woven with pure silk in a 70%-30% ratio to make shawls and stoles. Unfortunately because of the popularity and high price that a pashmina fetches, it is a commonly "duplicated" fabric; and to the common eye, viscose can pass off as pashmina quite easily.
However, it isn't very difficult to identify an authentic pashmina. A simple test is to check the appearance. If the piece you are buying has a high sheen, it's fake. A pure pashmina will have a slight sheen, due to the silk, but mostly appears matte. Another test is the pilling test - you'll always see pilling on a pure pashmina because pilling is natural for any animal fibre.
There are several more ways to identify a pure pashmina, so make sure to read our follow-up to this post coming soon before you buy your piece. Here are some more tips that you can keep in mind when buying a pashmina…
- Irregular weave – A pure pashmina shawl is woven on a handloom. Hence the weave is irregular, which you will see if you hold the piece against good light. This is one of the simplest tests.
- Rubbing test – Hold your pashmina in both hands and rub the two parts against each other. If there is any acrylic or polyester fabric mixed, it will accumulate static electricity and give out a spark which you may even be able to see in a dark room. If there is any plastic based material used in the shawl, it will attract hair or tiny particles like small bits of paper.
- Glue test – A pure pashmina cannot hold any kind of glue for long. So if there is a label or tag STUCK to it, the piece is probably a fake.
Now, if you’ve already bought a pashmina and are wondering if it’s pure, you can also try the following tests:
- Pilling, as we’ve already mentioned is an easy check. Pilling is the formation of fuzzy balls or tufts on the surface of woollen fabric. It gives the fabric a “worn out” appearance. If the fabric does NOT pill, it is NOT a pure pashmina. Pilling starts once you start using the product a few times.
- Burn test – Pick one thread on the fringes of your shawl and place it on a metal or ceramic pot. Now, light a match and burn it. If you get a burnt-hair kind of odour and if the ashes are powdery when you rub them between your fingers, it is likely a pure pashmina. If however it smells more like burnt leaves, vinegar or burnt plastic, and you see big flames, or if the ashes form a lump, it’s probably viscose or polyester
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