An impossibly soft cashmere jumper is the ultimate luxurious Christmas gift — but one that traditionally comes with a triple-figure price tag attached.
Until recently, the only affordable cashmere on the market was cheap because it used low-quality fibres blended with other textiles, resulting in poor-quality knits that bobbled after a couple of wears.
In previous years, FEMAIL ranked the best and worst cashmere offerings on the UK high street.
But this year, High Street cashmere has stepped up a notch and there are plenty of really good, luxurious options for under £100 — you just need to know what to look for.
Marks & Spencer crewneck star jumper, £99. Alexandria Dale has found quality cashmere for under £100
There’s some serious innovation, too, from improved production technology to better-quality blends made with super-soft recycled cashmere.
Big brands have made strides towards being more sustainable. Felice Langkamp, founder of MyCashmere, explains that increased demand for affordable cashmere has seen around 70 per cent of the Mongolian grassland, where goats that produce cashmere live, reduced to desert.
So check your knit has certifications from the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA) and The Good Cashmere Standard (GCS), so you know your jumper supports herders’ livelihoods, animal welfare and land regeneration.
Here’s our guide to finding the perfect cashmere present (or a little treat for yourself) for much less than you’d think…
FABULOUS BASICS AT MARKS & SPENCER
M&S’s 100 per cent cashmere is an open secret among fashion editors, as it’s good quality, machine washable and won’t bobble or shrink. Oh, and there’s a huge range of cuts and colours to suit every taste.
With accessories starting at £30 and crew-neck jumpers at £79, it has some of the most affordable knitwear on the High Street. This year, M&S is working with the SFA to ensure all cashmere is responsibly sourced.
The White Company scarf, gloves, and beanie, from £59. The brand’s 100 per cent GCS-certified cashmere collection includes clothing, accessories and even dressing gowns
BODEN FOR PUFF SLEEVES & PRINTS
If you’re after something a little more ‘fashion’ — think puffsleeves, neon brights, and fun prints — Boden’s 100 per cent cashmere is all GCS certified.
Prices start at £110, but many items are currently on sale, including a £160 paisley print Margot jumper, now £80, and a cashmere crew-neck tank that comes in seven chic colours — the original price tag was £110, but it is now priced from £55 to £77.
MIX AND MATCH WITH TESCO
It’s not just the High Street that is offering affordable cashmere. Tesco’s own-brand clothing line F&F has released a 100 per cent cashmere collection just in time for Christmas.
There are pared-back jumpers, hoodies and trousers, to coordinate or mix and match — and prices start at £79.
Tesco states the cashmere fibre used in its knits is all traceable back to the individual Mongolian herders it came from. And to reduce bobbling, F&F has added more twists to the yarn.
Uniqlo jumpers, £79.90. While traditional knitwear is made by sewing together different panels, Uniqlo’s new line is made in one piece and totally seamless
SMART TROUSERS FROM H&M
H&M now offers 100 per cent cashmere pieces in its Premium Selection, with prices starting at £79.99 for a fine-knit cashmere jumper or wide-leg trousers.
The brand says all products are made by independent suppliers, who must sign H&M’s sustainability commitment — although they are not part of either the SFA or GCS.
RECYCLED AT REFORMATION
In September, fashionable American brand Reformation introduced recycled cashmere. Old garments are carefully sorted, shredded and re-spun to create new pieces that feel as soft and luxurious as ‘virgin’ cashmere.
The jumpers and tees are made from 90 per cent recycled cashmere and 10 per cent virgin cashmere, which the brand says results in an 87 per cent reduction in the items’ carbon footprint.
Prices usually start at £150 for a recycled cashmere sweater — but there’s a sale on, so you can get a beanie hat for £55 (reduced from £110) and cashmere crew necks and boyfriend sweaters for £89.
3D-PRINTED KNITS AT UNIQLO
Always quick to adopt hi-tech innovation, Uniqlo’s latest clever trick is 3D-printing its cashmere knits.
While traditional knitwear is made by sewing together different panels, Uniqlo’s new line is made in one piece and totally seamless.
The absence of seams means they’re super-cosy and drape effortlessly over the body. Plus, the tighter knitting style makes for extra durability and less stretching. Uniqlo’s 100 per cent cashmere 3D knit range starts from £34.90 and includes gloves, hats, jumpers, cardigans, dresses and skirts.
Try a fabulous cashmere blend stole for £69.90, or a 100 per cent cashmere brightly patterned scarf £99.90, from the store’s collaboration with Italian designer Marni.
Jumpers come in a huge range of colours and styles, priced from £109.90 — though you can now pick one up for £79.90 in the sale.
TOP QUALITY FOR LESS
Based in Yorkshire, family-owned Brodiecashmere.com is known for its bright colours and eclectic prints. The best part though? It uses Grade-A Mongolian cashmere — the highest quality, made from the longest and thinnest goat hair — and it is all machine washable. Prices start at £60 for 100 per cent cashmere hats, gloves, socks and scarves.
WHITE COMPANY SOCKS
For other High Street brands doing cashmere well, look to The White Company. Its 100 per cent GCS-certified cashmere collection includes clothing, accessories and even dressing gowns.
Its cashmere bed socks, available in pink, blue, navy and white, are easily the most in-demand item at £36. There’s also a knitted cashmere tee for £98, while jumpers start at £110.
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group