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Fake cashmere wool bane of fashion industry

UK’s Langholm-based clothing retailer Edinburgh Woollen Mill, is facing charges for labeling scarves as “100 per cent cashmere” while being allegedly mixed with other material. The retailer, which has 265 high-street stores, is embroiled in a trial with growing concerns that cashmere is being blended with sheep's and yak's wool and synthetic products. The company outsources its cashmere, but insists it is subject to "robust independent testing" by experts in order to ensure its authenticness.

In fact, fake or mixed cashmere has been the bane of fashion industry for quite some time. Luxury cashmere jumpers may not be what they seem with evidence of fraud and fake. Cheap alternative materials - even rat fur, in one case - are being woven into garments. Some mills label scarves as 100 per cent cashmere while they are actually a mix of cashmere and other materials.

Two years ago a million items of cashmere clothing seized from Chinese-run firms in Italy were found to be a mixture of acrylic, viscose and fur from rats and other animals. Global cashmere production is about 7.5 million kg. However, sales of products carrying the name are much higher. There are not enough cashmere goats in the world to produce the amount of cashmere that is on sale.

The more basic cheats use acrylic or polyester in the blend. A lot of the blends will have 50 per cent or 60 per cent cashmere and 50 per cent or 40 per cent modified sheep or yak wool. Much of the cashmere that is on sale and sold as 100 per cent cashmere has a percentage of modified wool. Cashmere factories in China use a wool stretching machine, which can be used to make finer wool fibers. These are then blended with cashmere, which is sold as 100 per cent cashmere.