Over the last decade there has been a boom in the popularity of cashmere, on the high street it is quite usual to be able to buy a cashmere sweater for around the £60 mark. When you consider It takes four years for one goat to grow enough fibre for one cashmere jumper, the consequences of a swamped market place start to become clear. The simple truth is that the cheaper the cashmere the less likely it is that it has been farmed sustainably.
Much of this increase in demand has been met by Mongolia, where the ecological concern is that the higher demand for cashmere fibre has resulted in larger herds of goats which in turn have over-grazed and caused damage to the high altitude grasslands. With over-production, the value of the cashmere has also been driven down knocking onto the welfare of the herdsmen, which is threatening the very existence of these ancient nomadic tribes and as a consequence affecting the long term sustainability of cashmere.
The solution lies in preserving the integrity of this, ”the most noble of fibres” by making sure that the very best quality cashmere is safe-guarded and maintains the correct value. To do this it is absolutely necessary that criteria such as; Traceability, Sustainability and Animal Welfare are properly regulated.
Loro Piana, perhaps one of the best known Italian cashmere spinners is tackling the credibility of the cashmere industry head-on by funding research to develop best practice to protect communities and preserve their environments, focusing on the reduction of herd sizes. Added to this animal welfare is also central to their policy making, making sure there is adequate acreage of land for the herd size and supplementing the the animal feed to ensure adequate nutrition. Breeding is also carefully monitored to ensure that fibre quality is optimum.
The Sustainable Fibre Alliance is also working very hard with cashmere farmers in Mongolia to make sure that cashmere is fully traceable, raw material costs are protected and eduction programmes promoted to highlight animal welfare and environmental balance, which in the future will lead to a globally recognised, fully accredited supply chain.
Never As a consumer, has it become more important to shop responsibly and to research carefully into the sustainability of our clothing. The provenance of cashmere yarn is of the utmost importance.
As a small producer of cashmere collections, this has been at the forefront of Purl English’s design development and indeed is the cornerstone of our ethos. We source our cashmere yarn from the leading British cashmere Mill who are committed to providing sustainable, traceable fibre of the highest quality. We would never buy finished garments where the origin of fibre could be questionable. We are supporters of #buywellbuyonce and the #slowfashion movement. We invest many hours into each and every item of our handmade cashmere collection and believe that only the very best quality will do.
Our collection is designed to last a lifetime and then to be passed onto the next generation, Heirloom gifting. Making sure that today’s bad practice literally does not cost the earth.