Performance Cashmere

Dhu – a new ‘performance cashmere’ brand – is on a mission to persuade us that it’s time to give cashmere a little more respect, taking it beyond the realms of cable knit cardigans and off into the great outdoors.

As someone who has on more than one occasion been referred to as Cashmere Tan, it doesn’t take much to persuade me that my favourite fibre could have another role to play in our lives.

I attended the launch of Dhu’s first collection of cashmere performance wear, aptly held at the Royal Geographic Society.  It was here, inspired by photographs of intrepid explorers, that I learnt about the qualities that make this lovely fibre the perfect insulating material for outdoor activities like mountaineering, climbing and walking.

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Ian Moore, the founder of Dhu, can explain the technical bit much better than me, so here is what he told me about how he came to start Dhu and what he learnt about cashmere in the process:

I’m a keen outdoor enthusiast and, like many others, over recent years I have been exposed to the increased use of natural fibres – such as merino – in sports clothing. This led to me considering why cashmere is not being used in the same way. There followed an r&d process, starting by looking into mountaineering and expedition archives and seeing what equipment was traditionally worn. It soon became apparent that cashmere has a rich heritage as a performance fibre, used and credited by early polar explorers and pioneering high-altitude alpinists for warmth in the severest of conditions.
What is often considered as a traditional luxury product also had genuine provenance as a performance garment. Cashmere has long been renowned for its warmth without bulk. The benefits of cashmere appeared to be proven – but there was not the opportunity to enjoy it in a modern performance environment.
What was inspiring was that there was an inherent honesty and simplicity associated with cashmere. It is just natural fibre, providing ultimate insulation – lightweight, breathable, odour resistant and very soft to touch. There are no fanciful performance claims, or technical jargon required. No gimmicks. That was very appealing.

The other admirable thing about Dhu is that they manufacture all the products in Scotland and source the fibre from sustainable farming communities in Mongolia. This feels right for a brand that is very much about doing things the proper way. It’s a natural, sustainable option for those who like being in nature. Simple. Even the one syllable name feels straight forward and honest.

From a female perspective, the combination of rugged outdoorsy-ness and cuddly cashmere is pretty much irresistible. On the launch evening, myself and my friend Alexis, could be found buried within the rails of the super-soft items, ‘testing’ them for stroke-ability. They all scored highly. Winner.

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