Written by Flora Davidson, Co-Founder of Supplycompass. Supplycompass is a sourcing platform that enables brands and manufacturers to find each other and work better together. Through the Supplycompass platform, brands get matched with a manufacturer, receive cost estimates, create tech packs, request samples and manage production all from one dashboard. Supplycompass is harnessing the power of tech to bring greater trust, transparency and collaboration to global supply chains.
Warm, luxurious, and delightfully soft on the skin, cashmere is a popular material for winter collections. Cashmere fibres come from cashmere goats, a fibre that is not just softer and finer than sheep wool, but stronger too. China and Mongolia are the largest producers of cashmere in the world.
4 Goats = 1 Jumper
The hair of a cashmere goat is difficult to remove and the process labour intensive. The best way to collect is through hand combing - its best for the goats and for maintaining yarn quality. After removal the hairs are sorted into qualities: Grade-A is considered the best quality, with the longest, finest fibres that are more durable, pill less and get softer with wear.
Due to the ubiquity of cheap cashmere products, the grasslands of Mongolia are paying the price and the farmers are overworked and underpaid.
Read on to learn about some more responsible alternatives...
1. Switch to recycled cashmere
Some brands like Stella McArtney, Arket and Patagonia are swapping virgin cashmere with re-engineered and recycled cashmere. This means using post factory / pre-consumer waste. This waste yarn isn’t re-dyed, instead it is sorted into its original colours.
2. Use Yak Hair Instead
The brand Tengri has created a sustainable alternative to cashmere that supports Mongolian communities. They launched Noble Yarns made from semi-wild Khangai Yak from the Khangai Mountains of Mongolia. Tengri sources fibres directly from co-operatives representing 1,500 nomadic herder families in Mongolia.
3. Build a better cashmere supply chain
Kering and the SFE [Sustainable Fibre Alliance] are working with farmers in Mongolia to protect quality by maintaining raw material costs, and helping build more sustainable cashmere supply chains. Check out Naadam, a New York based cashmere brand who go direct to Mongolian farmers.