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Cashmere. The very word
evokes images of luxury, warmth and softness.
The ultra-fine wool, from the undercoat
of the Cashmere (or Kashmir) goat, is indeed
a premium fiber - one that generally costs
a good deal more than mere sheep's wool.
If you're shopping for
a gift of cashmere this holiday season,
do yourself a favor - and the recipient,
too. Read the label to make sure you're
both getting what you're paying for.
According to the Federal
Trade Commission, all wool products must
have a label that reflects the true fiber
content of the item. For example, if a product
is made of wool - and only wool - the label
can say 100% Wool or All Wool. If the product
contains a specialty wool - such as cashmere,
camel hair, mohair, alpaca, llama, or vicuna
- it can be labeled with the name and percentage
of the speciality fiber. If a product is
made of cashmere only, it can be labeled
as 100% Cashmere or All Cashmere. But if
an item, say a sweater or a pair of gloves,
contains cashmere mixed with sheep's wool,
the label must disclose both fibers accurately,
such as 80% Wool, 20% Cashmere.
Products marketed as pashmina
have become very popular, yet many consumers
aren't sure just what pashmina is. Some
manufacturers use the term to describe an
ultrafine cashmere fiber; others use it
to describe a blend of cashmere and silk.
An Indian word for cashmere, pashmina is
not a legally recognized labeling term.
In fact, the FTC says, pashmina is not a
fiber separate or distinct from the cashmere
The fiber content of a
shawl, scarf or other item marketed as pashmina
must be disclosed accurately because it
is a wool product. For example, a pashmina
stole that is a blend of cashmere and silk
might be labeled 50% Cashmere, 50% Silk
or 70% Cashmere, 30% Silk, depending on
the actual cashmere and silk content. If
the item contains only cashmere, it should
be labeled 100% Cashmere or All Cashmere.
In addition to the item's
fiber content, the FTC says labels on wool
products also must include the country of
origin, the name of the manufacturer or
marketer, and a safe cleaning method.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive
and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information
to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a
complaint or to get free
information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov
or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The
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and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.