Cashmere occupies a unique place in the clothing world.
On the one hand, it’s easily one of the softest and most comfortable fabrics in the world; pulling on a good cashmere sweater can feel like getting a warm hug when you need one most.
On the other hand, you pay for the privilege—cashmere is almost always more expensive than other wools like merino, which is one reason why it’s not as common.
Plus, not only do you have to shell out more for it, but you also have to worry that your investment might be short lived.
The softest things are often the most delicate, raising fears that cashmere might not hold up too well to the regular wear and tear of everyday life.
So when my wife gave me Naadam Cashmere’s Essential $75 Cashmere Sweater for Christmas, I was as intrigued by the fabric as I was impressed by the style, and spent a few weeks subjecting it to the usual bumps, bruises, stretching and sweating of my everyday routine.
(And in my case there’s usually more sweating than I care to admit…)
Read on to learn the full results of my Naadam Cashmere review and find out if their Essential Sweater is actually worth investing in.
Naadam Cashmere Sweater Review
A Weeks-Long, In-Depth Review of Naadam Cashmere
A lot of people know that cashmere is a more expensive type of wool than most others, but what they might not know is that a lot of that price actually comes from a mark up implemented by middlemen.
Naadam bills itself as “the world’s fairest cashmere” because it was founded with the goal of cutting out those middlemen in oder to offer better prices.
While taveling in Mongolia’s Gobi desert, founders Matthew Scanlan and Diederik Rijsemus realized that cutting out the “cashmere brokers” who serve as middlemen in the supply chain would allow them to sell premium quality pieces at prices that were both much more fair for the herders, and better for the consumer.
It’s this direct-to-consumer model that helps explain why Naadam’s cashmere is just as soft and stylish as major design brands, but available for half the price.
Where is Naadam Cashmere made?
Naadam still sources their cashmere from the Gobi desert and makes their cashmere in Mongolia. They pride themselves on working sustainably to make “cashmere with a conscience,” working with the nonprofit Gobi Revival Fund to help give back to the Mongolian communities they work in.
Is their cashmere as good as they say?
Setting out to sell high quality cashmere at easy-to-afford prices is a laudable goal, but also one of those things that sounds like it’s a lot easier said than done.
So, is Naadam Cashmere any good? Let’s take a closer look at my experience with their flagship product to find out.
The Essential Sweater
The Essential $75 Sweater that my wife gave me for Christmas is kind of a perfect microcosm for their business model:
If you bought this exact same sweater at a luxury department store it would probably cost a lot more, but cutting out the middle man allows Naadam to offer it for a significant discount.
(To give you just one example: J.Crew’s comparable cashmere crew neck comes at a base price of $118. But at the time of this writing it’s on sale for $89, meaning even J.Crew’s sale price is 14 bucks higher than Naadam’s base price.)
The Essential sweater is made from 100% sustainable cashmere, which Naadam collects after hand-brushing their goats in Mongolia and spinning the raw cashmere fibers together to create the yarn.
Medium Weight, Myriad Colors Available
The result is a sweater that falls somewhere between light and medium on the thickness scale. It’s a little thicker than the (comparatively dirt cheap) Uniqlo merino wool sweaters that I’ve worn in the past, but feels much higher quality.
I tried the crew neck version, but Naadam also offers a v-neck option, though for some reason the vee is only offered in six colors, where the crew neck is available in a whopping 14.
The one my wife bought me is in the color they call “blue horizon.”
What I love about this shade is how versatile it is: it’s light enough to provide some contrast when paired with dark blue denim, but dark enough that it doesn’t feel like I have to save it for spring.
Slim But Not Skin Tight
I have to admit, I was a little bit nervous the first time I put on the Essential Sweater—and a little relieved to see how well it fit.
I’m 5’9″ and about 175 lbs, and the sweater my wife gifted me was a size small, which was dead-on.
With sweaters I’m always nervous that they’re going to billow out around the waist or midsection and make me look kind of chunky (well… chunkier).
But the Essential hues closely to my body all the way down from the chest through to the waist, without being so tight that it restricts my movements or increases the odds of stretching or ripping.
(The website says the sweater was “improved with a true men’s fit,” so maybe fit was a problem they’ve had in the past, but for me it was pretty much perfect.)
Classic, If Not Cutting Edge
Both the crew neck and v-neck versions of the Essential sweater are about as timeless and unimpeachable as you can get, but I realize that not everyone considers that a plus.
I like to describe my Personal Style Profile as “classic-meets-modern,” meaning that while I of course want to look good today, I’d also like my kids and grandkids to think I look stylish if they see a picture of me 30 years from now.
And classic-meets-modern is also a pretty good way to describe the Essential, which looks like it would be just as at home in the wardrobe of a classic style icon like Steve McQueen as it would be on a modern icon like Ryan Gosling.
But, I realize that not everyone shares my preference for timelessness. If you’re looking for something trendier, or a sweater that fits with the season’s latest fads – remember that year when everyone was doing color blocking? – then this probably isn’t the sweater for you.
(Pretty Damn) Perfect Neck Hole
One last thing I’ll say about the style, which is a personal hobby horse of mine: the neck hole fits perfectly.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when you buy a crew neck that fits great in every other measurement, but has a small neck hole that either strangles you with its tightness, or creeps too far up your neck, almost as if it were trying to be a mock-neck or a turtleneck.
(I have a couple crew necks from Uniqlo whose neck holes I’ve been trying to gently and strategically stretch out for months, to no avail.)
Fortunately, the Essential really strikes the perfect balance, at least for my neck. It sits just below the point where my shoulders start to curve up to my neck, making for a relaxed-looking neckline that’s tight enough to look sharp and put together, but not so tight that I have to struggle to breath.
Total Score for Style: 4.7/5
100% Cashmere, 1,000% Comfy
As someone who wears a lot of merino wool but hasn’t worn a lot of cashmere in the past, it’s no exaggeration to say that this is probably the most comfortable sweater I’ve ever worn in my life.
From a distance or in photos, cashmere looks fairly comparable to other types of wool. But even though it may look similar, when you wear a cashmere sweater you can almost immediately feel how much more comfortable it is.
I knew cashmere had a reputation for softness, so that part wasn’t a huge shock, but I was surprised at how the Essential sweater felt warm and substantial, but light and breathable at the same time.
When I wear merino sweaters in a similar style, I often find that they’re so thin that I need to wear an undershirt underneath them, but the Essential Sweater gave me the same level of coziness with just one layer.
Which is great because, as I alluded to above, I tend to sweat when I get too hot, so I appreciated the fact that Naadam gave me a one-layer option that’s both warm and breathable.
Total Score for Comfort: 4.8/5
Is Naadam good quality?
In addition to being nervous about how the Essential Sweater would fit, my other big concern was how it would hold up.
Generally speaking, the softest and most refined fabrics also tend to be the most fragile, and since I didn’t have much experience with cashmere, I was worried that it would stretch, rip or tear more easily than merino and the other (cheaper) types of wool I’m used to wearing.
But I’m happy to say that my worries were unfounded. I liked the style and comfort so much that I kept reaching for the Essential Sweater and pulled it out of the drawer multiple times per week; in the first six weeks alone, I probably wore it more than a dozen times.
And I’m happy to report that so far, so good. I followed the laundry instructions closely (a habit I haven’t always been great about in the past) and opted to have the sweater dry cleaned instead of throwing it in the wash, which I think contributed to its longevity.
The tag also says you can hand wash the sweater, and my washing machine does have a “hand wash” setting that I was tempted to use, but I thought better of it.
This is definitely the type of sweater that I could wear for years if I take care of it properly, so spending a few bucks on dry cleaning is a small price to pay.
Total Score for Durability: 4.5/5
Is Naadam Cashmere good?
After wearing the Essential Sweater more times than I should probably admit over a six-week span, I can say with confidence that it’s more than up to snuff.
As I mentioned above, it checks all the boxes that I look for in a sweater: the style is classic and unimpeachable, the fit is slim and flattering, the material is (super) soft and breathable, and the quality of the construction is high.
But the best part is probably the price.
You could easily spend twice as much (or more) for the same sweater and feel comfortable with your purchase, but at just $75 the Essential Sweater is dollar-for-dollar one of the best deals on the market.
Before this I had always opted for cheaper wools and had never worn cashmere before, but I’ve totally become a convert: Naadam has become my go-to for sweaters.
I’ll definitely be adding a few more to my wardrobe, and recommend you do the same.
Total Score for the Naadam Cashmere Essential Sweater: 4.8/5
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