The History of Cashmere Material and Why It’s So Luxurious
Creating a sustainable planet is the global population’s number one goal and in this present moment, as we have experienced the devastating effects global warming and climate change have had on both our environment, our wildlife, and human beings we have no choice but to change the way in which we live in order to create a livable and safe future. While many people believe this has a lot to do with industrialization, fossil fuels, plastic use, and the overconsumption of animal products, there are also many other daily elements that are considered to be a non-eco-friendly contributing factor too. Cashmere fabric is a material we have all probably heard of and most definitely own in some way or another, but do we actually know about where it comes from and how the goat hair made into wool may affect the environment we live in?
What Is Cashmere?
Is cashmere-soft? What is a cashmere sweater? Why is cashmere considered a luxury in time? These are just a few of the many questions that are most commonly asked when it comes to the material we know from movies and tv shows, but how much do we actually know about what the material really is? Cashmere, just like cotton, wool, silk, and polyester is a fabric that is used to create many types of garments that we see in our everyday lives. But the special thing about cashmere is that it is one of the softest fibers in the world which is essentially what makes it appealing to consumers. Cashmere meaning that it is woven with the tiniest and thinnest of hairs creates what would be known as garments of luxury, that are known not only for their high quality and incredible softness but also their long-lasting ability and high price tag. The cashmere origin comes as a surprise to most of those who are repeat buyers of the luxury good and has an entire history behind its name which only adds to its value.
What Kind of Animal Does Cashmere Come From?
Within cashmere history, a lot of the speculation about why cashmere is an unsustainable fabric has a lot to do with where it comes from. Where cashmere comes from, however, doesn’t involve sheep as many of you may believe, but actually from goats, more specifically cashmere goats. These goats are found across the Himalayas where the temperatures reach a freezing -30C, which also means that these goats have the thickest and warmest coats in order to keep them warm. Another special thing about cashmere goats is that they have two lakers of hair, the upper coat, or top layer is very thick and coarse, which act almost like guards hairs to the underneath goat that is super soft and warm and the resource of the cashmere products we see on shelves today. Cashmere is exclusive, unique, and limited because goats cannot produce it in the same capacity as sheep can produce wool. One cashmere goat will give you about 200 grams of cashmere wool and a year, whereas a sheep will produce around 3 kilograms each year, hence why the difference in the price is extremely notable.
The Cashmere Production Process
It’s not just that the cashmere goats produce a limited quality of the ultra-soft fabric, but the process in which that is turned into a wearable or buyable garments is complicated and explicitly detailed too. The fibers from the cashmere goats can only be collected once a year, during a very specific period, and once it is collected and stripped down it amounts to about only half the amount of the original collection. After the pure cashmere is retained, the processing begins,first, the fibers are dyed to a specific color of choice, and then aerated, so they do not clump and stick together. Then the fibers are carded, meaning that they go through a process that detangles and lines up the hairs n the sheets so that they can easily be spun into yarn or cotton. The cashmere material is then handled very delicately with little, no use of chemicals and turned into a multitude of ultra-soft garments which usually appear during the winter months of the year.
Why Is Cashmere So Expensive?
Now that you have a better understanding of what cashmere actually is and the process by which it is made, its high price tag is little of a surprise, but there is more behind the high-end fabric that makes the cashmere market extremely competitive. Cashmere is priced based on its quality, and its quality is judged on its finesse and length, as well as the thinness of each microfiber. It is ultimately the purity of the collection method and the cashmere manufacturing process of the cashmere that ultimately determines its price tag. However, saying this there is a lot of controversy within the cashmere market, whereby many cheaper versions have been created by using lower grade cashmere and different processing methods to make the product more affordable but claiming to be the same high-quality cashmere for cheaper but still remains at least double the price of wool. As well as this there have been many incidences of mislabeling where products claiming to be 100 percent cashmere are found to contain yak hair or even rat fur or “synthetic cashmere”, if you will,so the bottom line is that if it’s cheap it’s probably not cashmere at all. So, how much does cashmere cost? Well, the most expensive cashmere products can cost around $2,500 and about $40 on the lower end.
Is Cashmere Wool?
Besides the obvious price, there are many distinct differences between virgin wool vs cashmere which primarily include :
- The wool comes from sheep, cashmere comes from goats.
- Wool can be used to create many things and products.
- Although both are strong and long-lasting, cashmere is more durable and can last for over 20 years.
- Cashmere products are around 8 times warmer than wool products.
- Cashmere has an extremely well-balanced texture which gives it the insulation properties that make it so warm.
- Cashmere is also lighter than wool.
- Cashmere products are a lot softer than wool.
- Cashmere products are more delicate and require a lot of care when it comes to cleaning.
- Wool products can sometimes cause itching and can often become uncomfortable once they are worn one too many times.
- Cashmere is more likely to pill because of the thinness of the fibers and how soft it is.
- Cashmere will not shrink when washed.
- Cashmere products will maintain their shape longer than wool products.
Is Cashmere Vegan?
Now that you have heard all about how amazing, warm and soft cashmere is, let’s get to the question we all want to know the answer to “is cashmere sustainable ?” While cashmere is definitely not vegan as it includes cashmere goat farming, even though it doesn’t actually cause much harm to the animal and is actually a particularly better process compared to many other products like wool and leather, the fact that an animal is used in the process turns many vegans away. However, saying this, green cashmere is the best sustainable and renewable fiber for a number of different reasons but largely due to the fact that it is not mass-produced and using ethical processes with few chemicals and population after facts. Sustainable cashmere is a neutral fiber meaning that there are no issues of it decomposing back into the planet, so the after-effects of the product are something we don’t have to worry about, unlike polyester, nylon, and many other synthetics, but is the process of using the giants themselves which leave the biggest carbon footprint in the cashmere industry.
Organic cashmere production causes little destruction of natural habitats, but it’s the growth of demand for the products that has got people worrying about whether cruelty-free cashmere is a possibility moving forward. This goat hair fabric is one that does not negatively impact the planet when it is made in its luxury, exclusive and limited form, but when this ethical cashmere is mass-produced on a cheaper scale, with the lower quality it becomes a problem. Once a product like this is being made to meet the demands of the fashion industry it no longer has the time nor the money to use the highest of quality fibers and processes and thus synthetics are added, dyes are used and goats are exploited, making it a contributing factor to the third-highest global pollutant – fast fashion.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know everything there is to know about the wonderful and intense world of cashmere land, you can get a better idea of recycled cashmere products and how purchasing the highest quality is the only way to be sustainable. You have learned about where mohair and cashmere hairs are from, how they are turned into soft garments, and why they are so expensive and have all the information and important facts you need to make smart choices when it comes to investing your money in the fashion industry. The idea is that we make a smart choice, as the choices that we make today will inevitably affect the prospect of tomorrow. Yes, cashmere is expensive, but there is also a justified reason for it being so and thus the bottom line is that if it is not the real deal then don’t waste your time and money on contributing to the fast fashion side of the cashmere industry at all.
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