CASHMERE & QUALITITY
Cashmere, once considered the fiber of kings, nowadays a commercialised product and part of a huge globalised industry. Most cashmere comes from the Gobi desert. An area between China and Mongolia known for its harsh cold climate, untouched wildlife and remote locations.
Centuries ago, the cashmere goats used to room freely all over the desert which was then referred to as Outer Mongolia (now Mongolia) and Inner Mongolia (now part of China).
Today, there are no free rooming goats on the Chinese side of the desert that is also the main difference in quality between the inner Mongolian (Chinese) Cashmere and the real Mongolian cashmere. It is how the goats live and the climate around them that affect how they are able to grow their fleece.
Since cashmere goats in Mongolia still room freely and are under the care of Mongolia’s skilled nomadic people, their fleece (fur or fiber) is still adapted to withstand the freezing temperatures of the Mongolian climate. As thus, it still has the real natural and centuries perfect quality of its cashmere fibers once called the fiber of kings.
THE NOMADIC ROLE
Mongolia’s nomadic people live in an unforgiven climate. it takes a certain kind of tradition, knowledge and love for the land to be able to survives living in remote Ger-tents all year around when temperatures drops to - 60 degrees Celsius during winter.
The Mongolian Nomads are amazingly skilled at the art of great cashmere, with traditions passed down for centuries, they can judge an A grade strand of hair (fibre) from a B and C grade cashmere strand of hair just using their eyes. Something unique to the Mongolian culture and cashmere sector.
To qualify as A grade each single strand of hair in they yarn must have fibres longer than 39 micron and be thinner than 17 micron. The fibres usd in our yarns averages at 42micron in length and 16.5 micron in thickness, thanks to the skilled nomadic team and their exceptional know how expertise.
With all forms of production and consumptions there will naturally be by-effects. Some might be good and some might be very bad. A larger issue for us with the modern cashmere production is the question of over consumption, bad farming and toxic pesticides.
That is why we feel it is our responsibility not to only give our customers great quality but also a quality they can buy with a clear conscience, which is not the story with most cashmere.
The practices of fast fashion is widely recognised as the third worst polluting industry. The cheap Chinese farmed fast fashion cashmere has had horribly consequences for both the environment and the well being of the goat and people
Since cashmere has become a more common commodity, the pressure to farm more goats has also increased cause the conditions to worsen rapidly so this is an area we are definitely staying out of and have no intention of joining.
A CATCH 22
Staying out of large factory farming is Of course always more sustainable and also gives us the opportunity to be involved in every step of production and ensuring the ethically of the entire process. Yet, free roaming goats with the immense demand on the quality cashmere business has had some disastrous consequences for the local environment.
Goats unlike other animals have a habit of destroying the lands they graze. They don’t just eat the plant but the entire root, meaning a new plant can not grow again causing the green lands to turn into desert (i.e desertification). This has consequently led to much harsher winters, forcing nomadic people out of the land and into the city. Unusually high numbers of animals have also frozen to death because of the changes in climate.
However with the increased demand for quality cashmere the real Mongolian A grade cashmere has surged in prices, which has led to the nomadic herders finally getting paid a well deserved amount. 1 kg of cashmere has gone up by 110% in just a few years. Far gone are also the agents and middle men, instead each company goes out and purchases the cashmere directly on the local market. Paying the herders directly without interruption. The herders are now finally able to make money out of their goats which are also vital animals to keep for their nomadic survival.
On the downside because cashmere now is such a large source of income the herds of goats are rapidly growing, which is swiftly increasing desertification and climate change.
It is a catch 22 which many cashmere companies still deny instead providing more goats as bonus systems to the nomads to encourage more goats..
Our solution to this is definitely not more goats but also not to stop making cashmere since it is such a a vital animal for the nomads. Due to, our solution comes in two words, slow fashion.
We believe in keeping our collections small, not pushing sales or impulse buying and to create organic, clean cashmere that last. We do not believe in producing tons of low-quality cashmere, selling it cheaply with super low margins and pushing the supply chain to produce more and more quantities. On the contrary, what we need is smaller herds with great quality, made to last and still be able to pay everyone from the nomads carrying for the goats to our factory workers and studio the fair salaries they deserve. We also believe in facilitating nomadic herders when it comes to keeping a diverse herd of animals. It is both vital to their culture and also creates a more sustainable local eco system. Thus, it’s one of the reason we have chosen to divide our collections in 3 equal parts. Cashmere, yak & Camel. All part of the astonishing animals our herders keep. Each of them with amazing wool suitable for different occasions. By also being able to offer nomadic herders a fair pay for the fleece from the other animals they need we ensure the herds stay diverse and the goats don’t need to take over all their lands.
In our view, this is the best way towards sustainability and we hope other cashmere companies will join us in the slow fashion movement and push for sustainable alternatives where we keep herds and production low while still offering long lasting garments, fair payment and exceptional quality.