Cashmere : Soft, fine and soft fabric, made with a blend of cashmere and merino wool.
Cashmere or cashmere (in English, cashmere) is one of the rarest and strangest goat wool in the world and at the same time one of the most valued.
The genuine cashmere is the one obtained from the goats of the dry uplands that surround the Gobi desert. These goats, given the extreme climate, have developed an extremely fine and insulating coat at the same time, to withstand the elements of their habitat.
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- 1 How cashmere is produced
- 2 Features
- 3 Your yarn
- 4 Desired Skins
- 5 Your care
- 6 Sources
How cashmere is produced
In one of the most rugged areas of the planet, in the solitude of Central Asia , goats graze that give the most exclusive wool in the world: cashmere. Her precious hair is lovingly collected, slowly, in a liturgy that has not changed in centuries. This achieves a unique and exquisite softness, well known to customers of the most expensive and select clothing stores in Paris , Milan , London or Madrid . Few of them know the artisan background, the conscientious process and the hard work of the shepherds of this remote region to be able to snatch from these animals their precious coat.
Most animals live at levels close to 2,500 meters and withstand temperatures that can reach 30 degrees below zero. To protect themselves, they have developed two layers; a thick, straight-pile, external wool, a coarse fiber that is 15-19 microns (fractions of a millimeter) in diameter; Underneath it grows a delicate and short fluff, product of an extra protein that your body generates according to the rigors.
The colder and closer to the peaks, the finer it is. This inner coat is called pashmina, and the one that covers the neck is the most required to make sweaters, suits and fashion accessories.
These two layers of cashmere provide elastic, strong and bright wools that adapt to humidity and isolate like soft shields. The goat sheds its hair in spring to face the following winter. It is at that precise moment when the wool can be collected. Of course, with absolute care. Because the authentic and native cashmere or kahsmir is not sheared wool but carded. This way you get a hair of greater length and price.
Once the wool is collected, the bunches are separated by thickness and color. Color nuances range from white to pale beige and some blackish tones. About 200 grams of fleece can be extracted from each specimen, the minimum necessary for the manufacture of a scarf. Each shepherd in Inner Mongolia, the area of China that produces the best cashmere in the world, earns between four and six dollars for each goat.
In the 1950s and 1960s, cashmere families earned a pittance. International humanitarian organizations denounced the situation. Then the painful working conditions of some pastoralists in Mongolia came to light. Separating a fine and tangled hair like gum, which comes mixed with dirt and wisps of vegetation, by a few tigruks – hardly a small change of the local currency began to shake some consciences. Shepherding, traveling hundreds of miles with the herds and sleeping almost in the open to receive a tiny part of the huge benefits that cashmere leaves in the West was a cruel injustice.
The situation became unsustainable for many of the nomadic caravans whose existence depended on the hair of these goats. To make matters worse, the tyranny of the market strangled them. If prices plummeted, shepherds could not store the collected hair because its freshness and, therefore, its price were distorted. So they had to get it out quickly, accepting the cheap buyer rate. Fortunately, the rules of the game have been changing. The collapse of communism fostered winds of change. The Chinese and the Mongols leveled their prices with those of the world market, ostensibly improved the working conditions of producers, and demand reactivated.
The communes of Inner Mongolia produce 1,400 tons of cashmere a year of total world production, which amounts to about 6,000 tons. Over time, the exploitation structure has mutated. The shepherds, owners of the animals, are grouped by clans and sell the cashmere to the factories managed by the State. They already have mobile phones and they even know the price that the fabric reaches in stores in Europe.
As a symptom of this normalization and labor transparency, the Italian brand Ermenegildo Zegna calls each year a peculiar contest: an economic incentive for the community or town that achieves the most sublime cashmere. With the approval of the Chinese Government, this trophy has been disputed since 1987 . Of course, the transalpine firm reserves the batches of the winning wool, a white cashmere (known by the English word, white) of exquisite quality that is mainly used to make men’s suits, sweaters, scarves and ties.
Despite technological advances and these awards, tradition and neat craftsmanship continue to be respected. No machines that mistreat such weightless material. They are inescapable premises, since to obtain a natural-colored sweater it is necessary to collect for three years the hair of a goat. If there is not so much patience, the dyes speed up the process. At the Dongsheng factory in Inner Mongolia, they know well how to treat raw materials. More than 4,000 employees wash, care for and manufacture about 420 kilos of cashmere a day. Despite the burgeoning industry, everything is scrupulously traditional. Other countries, such as New Zealand , Australia or IranThey also breed Kashmir goats. But they shear their hair and resort to modern techniques. The result is a wool substitute that depreciates its value, both for the rough treatment, and for being animals that graze far from their natural ecosystems.
It is mainly French and Italian wool that imports such delicate material. They classify it, wash it and comb it. From there it goes to the Spanish factories that, for the most part, mix it with carded wool.
The proverbial softness of cashmere has been appreciated for centuries. They say that the Romans marveled at its velvet caress, that the terrible Genghis Khan surrounded his cloaks with cashmere stoles, and that the Empress Eugenia de Montijo, wife of Napoleon III, displayed it with indifference in eighteenth-century European courts. “Fiber of kings”, they called it. Since then, cashmere is a sign of distinction, the hair of humble goats that live 8,400 kilometers from our country.
Along with softness and great lightness, they are some of the most valued in cashmere. The fact that the number of goats in the Gobi area is very limited means that the annual production of this material is very low; In addition, the animals are tresquilled and their fabric treated by hand, which motivates their high price.
From the carefully carded wool, the spinners separate fringes from the length of the future garment.
The yarn of the yarn is made following different quality criteria. The finest “two ply” cashmere fringes are actually twisted twine. This is only possible when using the thinner fibers. From the later use of the yarn as weft fringe or warp fringe, different results are achieved, for example a somewhat more rigid fabric in the latter case.
- Expensive reptile. Already in the Egypt of the pharaohs, the iridescent skin of the crocodile aroused envy. Florida and Louisiana (USA) account for almost all world production.
- Millennial silk. China was the first to take advantage of the excellence of silkworms. This fabric has not gone out of fashion since the times of Marco Polo.
- Queen of furriers. The cyberthine’s sable’s skin has unsurpassed shine, lightness and waterproofness. A coat can reach up to 36,000 euros.
- The most noble. Very expensive bags are made from the skin of the buffalo scrotum. The rest of his dermis, once tanned, is used to make jackets and shoes.
- African luxury. Royal weddings and horse races are two opportunities to see the very expensive marabou feather, wading bird and African scavenger.
It is important to consider that given the special characteristics of cashmere, its care must also be special, similar to natural hair, any abrasive method should be avoided to clean or preserve it. The washing should be carried out with warm water and always by hand, being preferable on occasions, to be carried out by specialized personnel.
In short, an apparently expensive investment in the short term can be considered to be economical in the medium and long term if appropriate care is taken to care for this refined material.