Fabrics and Material Used in Boys' Clothing: Cassimere

Figure 1.--Here we notice a suit offered by Sears made out of cassimere. Notice the inexpensive price. We have little informatioin about this fabric, but believe the name was to suggest cashmere--an expensive fabric.

We notice a relationship between these three fabrics/weaves. We do not fully understand the difference, but this is what we do know.


Cashmere is a twill weave wool worsted fabric which began to be used for suits in the late 18th Century. It is derived from Kashmir goats. Cashmere is currently a disputed province between Pakistan and India. It was used for better boys' suits during the late 19th Century. Cashmere is of the rarest and most expensive fibres known to man. It is combed from the soft underfleece of the Cashmere Goat, which lives in the mountains of Central China. Each animal yields only 4 oz per annually. The finest fleeces comes form those animals living at the highest altitude where the temperatures are coldest. We suspect that many fabrics identified as Cashmere was actually cheaper fabrics. We note different spellinfs were often used.


We note adds at the turn of the 20th century for boys suits made out of cassimere. We are not sure at this time just what cassimere was. Sears tells us that it was a fabric that was part wool, but we have no other details at this time. Because it sounds like Cashmere, we think it was an effort to make a less expensive fabric sound like expensive Cashmere. At the time there were no consumer protection laws protecting the public from misleading advertisement. Modern dictionaries do not include many of these older clothing and textile terms. They can, however, be found in some older dictionaries. The 1913 edition of Webster's Dictionary is useful for figuring out terms like "cassimere". It says, "Cas"si*mere (?), n. [Cf. F. casimir, prob. of the same origin as E. cashmere. Cf. Kerseymere.] A thin, twilled, woolen cloth, used for men's garments. [Written also kerseymere.]" I think that cassimere is essentially kerseymere with the name changed to cassimere to make it sound like a higher quality product. I think kerseymere was a term more common in Britain than America. An example is the Sears vestee suit seen here from 1902. We also notice Seas caoe overcoats done in cassimere during 2002.


Kersey is a town in Suffolk. Kersey or kersey cloth is believed to be associated with the Suffolk town. The word appeared in the English language in the early 15th century. Kersey or kersey cloth is a coarse, twilled woolen cloth. It was sometimes beginning in the 18th century made with a cotton warp and used primarily for worl clothes. Kersey was also a term used to describe a heavy, fulled woolen overcoating much like melton. The term kerseymere iss of more recent origins. The first usage dates to about 1780. It is a heavy fulled fulled, twill-weave woolen textike done with a fine nap. It appers to be the original name for cassimere.


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Created: 3:42 AM 8/28/2004
Last updated: 2:32 AM 8/30/2004