A few years ago, Waitrose – that last bastion of the middle class shopper – introduced a product that made even the wealthiest of consumers scratch their heads in bemusement. Cashmere toilet paper is the latest and greatest invention to hit twee supermarket shelves, says Telegraph journalist Harry Wallop. That’s right, cashmere toilet paper.

It’s cashmere toilet paper, toilet paper lined with cashmere oil. Now, you’ll either love the idea or you’ll absolutely hate it. For some, it’s an indulgence too far. For others, it’s a brilliant and rather amusing little novelty. Unsurprisingly, industry experts aren’t so fond of this new product. When it comes to the health of the British cashmere industry, things are a little bit rocky.

The economic recession has hit the few remaining Scottish mills very hard and lots of jobs have been lost over the last decade. With China fast becoming a major player in the cashmere world, and the quality of the material on a seemingly unstoppable downward tumble – things have been difficult.

It is true that Chanel bought and saved Barrie Knitwear in 2012. In doing so, the fashion house saved no less than 176 Scottish jobs. It’s very unlikely that industry experts in Scotland will be pleased by the appearance of this cashmere toilet paper. After all, it’s another blow to the exclusive image that they have always tried to cultivate, says Rebecca Mead from the New Yorker.

It’s important to note that the Waitrose toilet paper doesn’t actually contain any cashmere fibres. According to the Daily Mail, it is made up of the natural oil from cashmere fur. Yet, this won’t change the fact that shoppers will buy it because they assume it contains real cashmere fibres. As long as they do this, the value of the industry will continue to decline.

It’s a very strange situation, really. It seems so frivolous to an outsider, and that goes for both the product and the problems it seems to pose. Cashmere, though, is built on the notion of luxury – it is an industry that survives because it is deemed to be uniquely exclusive and opulent. If it weren’t, it might not exist. Therefore, it’s important that the quality of cashmere is protected.

These days, it’s possible to buy a cashmere sweater for as little as £40. For this price though, it won’t be made from very good fibres. The quality of cashmere fibres is measured in length and thickness.  These measurements tends to range from 0.8 inches to 2.5 inches – with 2.5 inches being the most luxurious type of product on the market. If the diameter of the fibre is over 19 microns, it isn’t real cashmere at all.

The finer the micron, the more luxurious the product. Thus, luxury boutiques like Londonw11 will only ever stock the finest quality cashmere. For top quality cashmere sweaters and scarves, visit The Waitrose toiler paper doesn’t even contain any cashmere fibres. It’s still a luxury product, though – consumers will buy it because of the reputation it comes with.

Should Waitrose be stocking cashmere toilet paper? It does seem like a rather silly indulgence. Yet sometimes, silly can be a good thing. In the aftermath of the economic recession, it’s nice to pretend that these sort of things actually matter. It’s a little superficial, but that might be what it takes to get Britain’s squeezed middle classes on their feet again.

Author Bio: Bradley McNamara is the editor of a home and lifestyle magazine. For the finest cashmere sweaters and scarves, he recommends Bradley can usually be found conducting market research, or testing out new products.


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Categories: Fashion