Sunday, 9 October 2011

Shelling out cash for Cashmere

Cashmere. Fabric of the rich? Twinset and pearls? A luxury? Or just another item made accessible by and for the highstreet?

About 7 years ago a cashmere sweater was £100 at M&S and this grand old year of 2011 they are £45 (or £39 in the sale if you get your skates on and make a trip to the mid-seasons). When M&S started producing cashmere jumpers they had a clear plastic sleeve over them and retailed on a special hanger to further perpetuate that sense of luxury and sheer fabulousness. I only remember these details because I was working for M&S at the time and fell over myself to get my Mum one of the first highstreet cashmere jumpers for her Christmas present (with my staff discount. Gotta love retail for the staff discount). Now they are are on normal hangers, less than 50quid and in the sale.

The price of 'lux' fabrics can be perceived as a barrier to entry for consumers. £50 for a jumper? But you can go to Primark and get 3 jumpers for that price! They might just not last as long as you had hoped. Queue bobbling and pilling like the acrylic the jumpers are made from is going out of fashion.
And the care of  'lux' fabrics can also be a right royal pain in the bum. Dry cleaning can end up costing as much as the jumper itself after a few trips to the cleaners. So the expensive luxury item becomes a really expensive luxury item.

But the highstreet has cottoned on to this. Whistles is striving to make its silk offerings handwash instead of dry clean. The M&S cashmere jumpers in question can be machine washed instantly making them more accessible to the masses.

Not so luxury now.

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