When thinking of cashmere the first things that come to our mind: Luxury and super soft. In the past years, cashmere has been easily accessible for the broader mass and fast fashion brands offer 100% cashmere pullovers at unbeatable prices. Did you ever wonder about this? We have collected everything that you need to know about cashmere:
So let’s start with, what is cashmere actually?
Cashmere is a very soft wool that comes not from sheep like the most common wool, but it comes from the Cashmere goat. These goats have their habitat in cold regions like the Himalaya and provide a super soft light material, that has a luxury status.
What makes cashmere so popular?
Cashmere has always been a luxurious material, it’s incredibly soft but also super durable. (This fabric is said to be three times more insulating than sheep wool.)
Which countries are farming cashmere goats?
Cashmere wool is sourced in China, Mongolia, Afghanistan and Northern India. With China and Mongolia providing 90% of the world’s cashmere.
How big is the cashmere industry?
Bain and Company previously calculated that cashmere makes up to $4 billion of the luxury marked of $60 billion.
But the demand for cashmere products for the mass market has increased over the past decades. E.g. in Mongolia, the cashmere goat population grew from 1990 to 2009. from 5million to 20 million goats.
How is the cashmere wool produced?
Cashmere goats live across the Himalayas, freezing cold regions where temperatures drop to -30°C are their natural habitat. Living in these cold regions the cashmere goat, that is naturally quite lean, grows an incredibly warm coat. But not all of its fur is used for making the cashmere yarn. The goat has two layers of hair. thick fuzzy hair and an undercoat of the super-soft cashmere we know. Not like the wool sheep that have to be shorn, the cashmere goats lose their hair naturally and it has to be brushed out.
What is the environmental impact of cashmere?
Cashmere is like any other wool natural, biodegradable and renewable. But the cashmere industry is suffering a lot from the high increase of demand for that luxurious material.
The farmers have now much larger herds to cope with the demand.
Having more goats than they used to have before the surrounding nature is suffering under the increase of animals. The herds graze and eat more grass than nature can recover in time.
Watch this video to learn more about where cashmere is coming from:
But besides the impact of the goats on nature, the regions are also suffering under climate change and in most regions rain becomes less frequent and grass becomes scarce.
Besides the fact that goats release like sheeps and cows also CO2.
But one important point to mention when it comes to the sustainability of cashmere as a material is the rarity of the material. To make one Cashmere pullover the wool of 4-5 goats is needed, in comparison one typical merino sheep produces enough for eight to ten pullovers. This means a cashmere goat gives around 200 grams of wool while a sheep produces at least 3 kilos of wool each year (using quite the same resources over the year).
What kind of Cashmere should I buy?
As Cashmere is a quite limited product, a lot of fast fashion brands stretch their pullovers that are marked with 100% cashmere with other materials like mice hair. A cheap cashmere pullover is surely too good to be true…
Hence, it is very important to look for quality.
Also, recycled Cashmere is gaining more and more popularity, due to the durability of that material it’s not just good to be recycled, but it is also a material that can be passed on from generations.