A Crackdown by Cashmere Cops

Counterfeit cloth shows up even on the racks of reputable shops

Karl Spilhaus shops with a mission. His busy hands rake through the winter- coat racks, expertly fingering the fabric as he examines the labels and checks the prices. When Spilhaus senses a swindle, he purchases the suspicious garment and whisks it to a laboratory where it is sectioned, stripped of dyes and studied under microscopes. Spilhaus is searching for counterfeit cashmere, and all too often he finds it. A garment labeled 70% cashmere/30% wool frequently contains no more than 5% cashmere. The rest? Recycled rags, human hair, acrylic, asbestos, rabbit fur and even newspaper.

Spilhaus is director and chief detective of...

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