Used for textiles, camel hair fibres are available in two qualities: the finer, inner down taken from the underside of the camel is used for home furnishings and textiles ,; the coarse outer hair which can be up to 37 cm (14.5”) long and drops during the moulting season over a period of 6-8 weeks is collected and sorted by colour and age, and used to make felt for yurts, tents and winter coats. The best and softest fibre comes from Bactrian camels.

The inner down is coarser on camels living in harsh climates; in its natural colours, ranging from tobacco brown to light brown, it is mostly used to make blankets. The down from camels living in more temperate climates is soft and strong, shiny, lightweight and warm, spun and woven into cloth for high quality clothing, hosiery, and furnishing. It is also very expensive, so is often blended with wool.

From as far back as the Middle Ages, the softest camel hair has been used to make high quality clothing and in particular coats. A camel hair coat is most likely to be camel coloured, with the wool left slightly long on the face. I remember my mother wearing a camel hair ‘car coat’–a three quarter length coat to keep you warm when car-heating engineering was in its infancy.

In varying shade of tan, a camel coat is a wardrobe staple, as it goes with anything–whether made from the real thing or look alike wool.

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