What Is Mohair?
While wool is easily the most popular material for men’s suits and garments like sweaters, there are others that work just as well and even have different properties. Mohair is one of those fabrics.
You may think you’re unfamiliar with mohair but as mentioned above, it is a favourite of James Bond’s many tailors. You’ll be able to see fine examples of mohair from classics such as Thunderball and The Man With The Golden Gun as well as newer instalments like Quantum of Solace and Spectre.
While wool comes from the fleece of a sheep, mohair is the fiber/yarn/fabric that comes from the hair of the Angora goat. Note that this is not to be confused with the Angora rabbit, which is quite literally a different animal altogether. The goat’s name comes from the historical name of Turkey’s capital, Ankara.
Mohair is typically produced nowadays in Turkey, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand & Australia (both of which are also known for their excellent merino wool), and even the United States.
This fabric is not typically offered to ready-to-wear suits. If you’d like to own a mohair suit, you will likely need to visit a tailor shop and have one custom made for yourself. As the fabric is expensive on its own, it will make for a pricey suit as well.
Mohair has been used in clothing as a fabric for over a hundred years, but Dormeuil’s Tonik fabric book popularized the fabric in the mid-to-late 1950s. It became very popular with mods but was just as expensive then as it is now.
At the time (the 1960s), “hi-tech” fabrics such as polyester were increasingly popular, and many companies would make synthetic imitations of mohair and market it as such.
Nowadays, mohair is found in the shops of high-end tailors. Its expense makes it unfeasible for ready-to-wear companies to mass manufacture them from a financial perspective.
How Mohair Is Made
Angora goats historically had white fleeces but they can now be found in black, grey, various shades of brown, and even red as a result of selective breeding. The shearing process is very similar to that of sheep, although the fabric is very difficult to spin.
This is because the fleece doesn’t have the barbs holding the strands together as wool does.
Benefits Of Mohair
Mohair is extremely durable and has a beautiful sheen to it, one that you don’t find in wool of comparable quality. It’s also known for its distinctive hand and wrinkle resistance. The feel of it is lush but almost a bit rough; some say that it has a bit of “bite” to it.
Its wrinkle resistance is truly spectacular. You can take a mohair fabric and literally crush it in your fist, let it go, smooth it out, and it’ll look like nothing ever happened to it.
Mohair also has some natural stretch to it; combined with its durability, it’s a great fabric for globetrotters and businessmen.
Mohair Vs Cashmere
While both fabrics are lustrous and luxe, cashmere has a smoother hand than coarse mohair.
Mohair vs Angora
As we mentioned above, mohair comes from the hair of the angora goat. Angora rabbits, however, are a different story.
Angora rabbits are indeed sheared for their wool, but it’s extremely fine at just 11 microns. This is finer than cashmere and making a suit or even just a jacket out of it would be prohibitively expensive for all but the richest of us.
Mohair & Wool Blends
Mohair is very rarely sold as 100% mohair; it’s almost always blended with wool to make it softer and more comfortable. Below are the most common fabrications for mohair:
100% mohair is very rare. The fabric is just too coarse to feel good without some kind of blend, and it would also be rather expensive. We say to pass on this fabrication.
70% Mohair / 30% Wool
A difficult-to-find blend, it has a shine but can still be stiff and uncomfortable.
60% Mohair / 40% Wool
This fabric will still be quite crisp and coarse but is the first step into most mohair fabrics. These blends are typically quite heavy, so if you have a penchant for heavier cloth, this is a great way to go.
35% Mohair / 65% Wool
This is the sweet spot for mohair blends. The ratio makes room for mohair’s sheen and wrinkle resistance while softening the hand to something truly luxurious.
14% Mohair / 86% Wool
These fabrics are exceptionally luxurious and are typically very lightweight.
What Is Kid Mohair?
Kid mohair is mohair that comes from a younger angora goat. The hair is finer and less coarse, but more expensive. The best of the best is referred to as “Summer Kid Mohair,” which refers to the very first shearing of the season. Subsequent shearing yields coarser mohair.
Classic Patterns & Colors
Mohair fabrics are available in all the typical colors and patterns wool is. It dyes well and looks quite good with a pattern. Some of the most common and best are below:
Mohair shines, literally and figuratively, as a solid fabric. Brighter colors, such as cobalt blue, burgundy, and others, benefit greatly from this fabric’s natural sheen. Great for summer suits especially, where bold colors are more acceptable.
A simple stripe gets new life breathed into it when put onto a mohair fabric. This type of suit would be fantastic for businessmen, whose sole acceptable pattern is often a pinstripe.
How & When To Wear It
Mohair has many different applications, the most popular of which are below:
The Mohair Suit
A mohair suit is an excellent option for those of us who travel frequently. It can also work well for professionals who need to make an impression of success and wealth on their clients. Criminal defence attorneys and high-end financial advisors tend to fall into this bucket.
A tuxedo is arguably the best place for mohair. In a setting where a little twinkle goes a long way, having a soupçon of sheen in your black-tie attire will set you apart from the barathea wool-ed pack. In a midnight blue, a mohair tuxedo is an absolute smash. That you can dance all night in it and not look terribly wrinkled is an added bonus!
For more on tuxedos, see our tuxedo guide.
If you’re fortunate enough to attend white tie events, a mohair tailcoat and trousers will give you a sheen that again will set you apart from the other gentlemen.
Mohair is mostly used for suits and evening wear, but some brands also sell mohair accessories, mainly neckties. They tie just about the same as silk ties do, and can form a lovely dimple if you’re a veteran tie tie-er. Note that they will be more expensive than in-class silk or wool ties.
If you need more information on ties, our guide to neckwear has everything you could need!
Where To Buy Mohair Suits
Few high street brands will stock mohair due to its cost. However, it can be even more challenging to find mohair garments that offer reasonable value for money. If you’re in the market for mohair garments, we recommend the following retailers:
- Black Lapel: High-end made-to-measure suits offering exceptional value for money.
- Indochino: Affordable made-to-measure suit brand with a few mohair blends.
- Hawes & Curtis: Traditional Jermyn Street menswear brand with a selection of mohair tuxedos.
- Brooks Brothers: Occasional mohair suits in seasonal collections.
We’re very fond of the made-to-measure services by Indochino and Black Lapel. While it may sound pricey, they offer excellent value for money! Normally, we suggest Indochino first, as its suits can be found for as little as $300. You can also get 10% off with our code “BESPOKEUNIT“.
However, Indochino’s mohair blends are limited and it usually uses small quantities.
Meanwhile, Black Lapel has a better selection of high-quality fabrics. While its part of their luxury Savoy range, the prices are still very reasonable. Most of their mohair suits begin at around $800, but you can enjoy a $25 discount with our code “FTOBESPOKEUNIT“.
More Fabric & Pattern Guides
Mohair is a relatively rare fabric, and we hope you learned enough about it to feel comfortable discussing it with your tailor at your next visit. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our other fabric guides, including: