Cashmere has long been known as one of the most luxuriously soft, warm and decedent materials out there. Over the years, cashmere has evolved and moved from a fabric that was reserved for only the very lucky, to a staple in every stylish wardrobe. The material is said to be about three times as warm as wool and is loved for being incredibly long lasting, but how high does it score on the ethical and eco-friendly scale? Read on to find out just how ethical cashmere is…
What is cashmere?
Cashmere originates from the Kashmir region way back in the 13th Century – so it’s safe to say that it’s been around for quite some time! Back in the day, the silky soft material was reserved only for the very rich and very royal. It became slightly more commonplace as the world moved into the 19th Century, when it was discovered by the Europeans. Scotland and France had a particular appetite for the warm and soft fabric.
Now that you’ve got your history lesson out the way, it’s time to figure out exactly what cashmere is. The textile is formed from fibres cut from goats. These fibres are taken from the undercoat of their winter hair. This is fluffy, soft and incredibly silky, giving cashmere all of its best properties. Cashmere can really be derived from any kind of goat, but those from Mongolia, Southwest China, Iran, Tibet, and India are usually favoured due to their low fat composition. The lower the fat percentage, the more hair the goat must grow to stay nice and warm over the winter.
How does it affect animals?
As you’ve just discovered, cashmere comes from goats, but how does the process affect those fluffy little animals? As with many processes, the cheaper the material that you choose, the more you risk putting money in the pockets of those who practice less than kind or conscious production. By stripping a goat of its coat before it’s ready (i.e in the middle or early stages of winter), you could be causing an innocent animal to suffer for the entire season. The key is to mindfully invest in local, ethical cashmere providers and skip the too good to be true prices for cashmere that you spy online. Remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
What about the planet?
Next, the planet. Because cashmere is taken from animals and animals alone, it skips the whole toxic pesticide and weeding process that so many fabrics can cause through their harvesting process. Cashmere is also 100% natural, which means that it is biodegradable and will not end up in landfill. Avoid blended cashmeres or B grade products to ensure that your purchase is as environmentally friendly as possible. You can also keep a beady eye on your global carbon footprint by mindfully shopping local. This can mean shopping only from domestic stores or boutiques down the road who responsibly source their materials – whatever works for you! Less global shipping will reduce your footprint, and we all know that it’s going to take a collective effort for us all to care for the planet in the future.
There you have it, everything you need to know about shopping for cashmere. Staying educated and up to date on kinder materials, ethical work practices and sustainable brands is going to make sure that your wardrobe is as stylish and eco-friendly as it possibly can be! Happy shopping!