All You Need to Know About the Cashmere Production Process
Considered one of the rarest, most expensive natural fibers in the world. Pure cashmere is universally adored for its soft, plush feel that has become synonymous with luxury, comfort, and warmth.
Also known as pashmina, the Persian word for wool, the name “cashmere,’’ has evolved due to its association with the valley of Kashmir, India—where, for over 500 years, this ultra-fine textile has been refined, woven and hand embroidered into lavish cashmere/pashmina shawls, scarfs, clothing, tapestries, blankets, and more intricate and alluring works of art.
What You May Not Know About the History of Cashmere: The Unsung Story of This Famed Fine Fiber
Today, much of the world’s cashmere comes from the Gobi Desert, a region that spans from Northern China to Mongolia. Mainly due to the fact that cashmere has become such a highly-coveted commercial commodity as a result of the demands of the fast-fashion industry. In order to serve this demand, the traditional Kashmiri process of making this fine, elegant fiber has been significantly compromised in the pursuit of maximizing volume and increasing profits. This production process is as follows: local workers on goat farms comb the belly hair of the goats then sort through it by hand before shipping it off to a facility, often in China, to be thoroughly cleaned. Once the hair has been refined, it’s packaged and sent to Europe to be further processed into a fine fiber. After, it’s sold directly to designers for around $114 per pound.
Naturally, this has tainted much of the quality and craftsmanship of a lot of the cashmere products that are readily available in commercial markets today. Fortunately though, there is a growing set of intelligent, quality-conscious consumers across the globe who are creating a steady demand for authentic, artisan-crafted cashmere that’s made and refined where the art form itself was born in the valley of Kashmir.
How is Authentic Cashmere Made?
Real, genuine cashmere is sourced directly from goats tended to by traditional goat herders in their natural habitat: the Changthang area of Ladakh. Using the combed hairs of the goats, native Kashmiri artisans masterfully transform the hairs into lush cashmere fabric by utilizing ancient weaving techniques and arts from 15th-century Persia.
Then, Kashmiri artists, designers, and craftspeople work with the fabric by hand to create one-of-a-kind cashmere shawls, clothing, and more.
Cashmere Buying Tips: How to Find Quality, Authenticity and True Artists
Support Small Businesses and Artisans Directly from Kashmir
For people who care about buying exquisite luxury goods that are richly rooted in authentic artistry and tradition, it’s important to find a small company that is owned and operated by people from Kashmir. Unfortunately, there are many companies making false claims about their origins and the quality of their products. It is important to know the difference between trustworthy companies and the big machine of fake goods and manufacturers. While it is easy to say that their shawls are all handmade and from Kashmir: it is a falsehood perpetuated for commercial purposes.
The simplest way to avoid this is to support a business and brand that is Kashmiri owned and has a long held reputation for quality and authenticity.
Find a Business with a Reputation which Works to Preserve the Cultural Heritage of Kashmir and Its People
It’s crucial to look for a brand that is actively invested in using its business to safeguard the unique arts and crafts of the region. So, before making a single purchase, remember to ask yourself: ‘‘Is the company I’m considering buying from doing a good job of articulating its commitment to quality and authenticity? What do they say about it on their website and marketing materials? Do they feel strongly about educating and informing their customers about the art form of making cashmere?’’
The answers to these questions can tell you a lot about whether or not the company is a source you can rely on for real and rare cashmere.
At Andraab, we feel blessed to belong to a family and community of talented Kashmiri artisans who generation after generation, continue to inspire our vision and mission to keep the famed and fabled Kashmir shawl alive and thriving in today’s world. We employ hundreds of skilled weavers and embroiderers who work to the highest standards to ensure our shawls are the benchmarks of quality, craftsmanship and the spirit of Kashmir.
Shop Our Collection of Handmade Luxury Cashmere/Kashmir Shawls
Explore authentic artisan-crafted Cashmere/Kashmir shawls—designed by Andraab.