We live in a totally different world today. Now, whenever we buy something, we have to consider its impact on us and the planet. Unless we shop responsibly, it is us who will suffer and subsequently be charged with shopping irresponsibly. In this regard, Cashmere shawls stand out as something that is debatable.
What is Cashmere?
Cashmere, the term used to describe a fine goat hair used to make luxurious shawls, is thought to be an anglicization of Kashmir, the region where the hair is processed. There is a rare and beautiful goat species that lives in the Himalayas. Altitudes cause these goats to develop a fine variety of hair to combat freezing temperatures. Cashmere is especially warm and soft from goats living near the Indian region, in Ladakh. Cashmere from Ladakh is processed in Kashmir valley.
Processing of the fine hair
A cashmere goat's fine hair grows before winter. It sheds its precious hair as soon as the molting period of the goat begins (March). During the freezing conditions, the goat keeps its hair on to survive. Ladakh's winters can be brutal, with temperatures sometimes dipping to minus 40 degrees Celsius. However, summers in Ladakh are unbearably hot. Hence, the animal also cannot bear the coat during summers, so nature helps the animal to shed some of it. Herders use specialized combs to remove the rest of the same. After the goats are cleaned, the wool is packaged in small packets by the herders.
The process begins with deep cleaning the Cashmere wool. It is then spun and woven manually. The lumps of raw Cashmere acquired from Ladakh are spun by underprivileged artisans. Cashmere shawls, Cashmere wraps, blankets, handkerchiefs, pocket squares, socks, etc. result from this process.
Is Cashmere a responsible buy?
Cashmere shawl making is an entirely manual process. From the moment it is acquired to its completion, there is no machinery involved. The cashmere processing does not cause pollution, so the environment is deemed safe.
Another factor that changed many people's perception of Cashmere is its acquisition. Many consider Cashmere procurement to be unethical and cruel, but this could not be further from the truth. When goat hair is combed out of its body, no animals are killed or injured. The goats are, in fact, one of the reasons that the Ladakhi population living in the altitudes of the Himalayas survives in the winter. Despite dangerously cold conditions, these goats are kept going by their wool and milk.
Sustainable Fashion and Sustainability
The term 'sustainable fashion' has found its way into every field of fashion today. The trend is gaining momentum with this generation taking more responsibility for people and the environment. Fashion that is environmentally sustainable uses garments and fabrics that are produced and used in ways that are slow and do not harm the environment or people. By reducing the use of machines that harm the environment, controlling overproduction, reducing carbon emissions, recycling garments, and ensuring that manual labor is fairly compensated, these goals can be achieved.
Sustainability may therefore mean buying less, but buying quality, investing in fabrics that last a long time, shopping vintage items, wearing naturally produced products, and knowing what you are investing in. Therefore, we consider Cashmere shawls to be one of the most sustainable accessories available to us today. Cashmere is handwoven, manually processed, without the use of machines. Fast fashion has displaced thousands of artisans, who are underprivileged as a result. If properly cared for, cashmere shawls last a very long time. Over 25 years is the life expectancy of a 100% pure Cashmere shawl. In the valley, it enables not only men artisans, but also women to work with their hands, and earn an income.
Cashmere Shawls and Animal Cruelty
Although many people believe Cashmere acquisition is cruel to the goat, however reality is completely different. It is not the Cashmere goat, but the Tibetan Antelope, which is slaughtered for its hair (shahtoosh). Cashmere goats are domesticated, and therefore do not need to be forced to part with their precious hair. Sheders have been using specialized combs and tools for years to gently comb their hair off, and they are used to this procedure.
The only way to make cashmere sustainable is to make it pure. A pure Cashmere shawl lasts for over 25 years when it is manually processed by men and women. If your Cashmere shawl is a mix of Cashmere and silk or nylon or sheep wool, it might not last long, or it might have been machine-made. As a result, fake Cashmere shawls are not the sustainable accessories. To become a responsible buyer, one must invest in handcrafted Cashmere shawls .Make sure your Cashmere is original by checking with your seller. In either case, the scarf will have a GI (Geographic Indication) stamp, or the seller will produce an authenticity certificate for the collection of shawls he is selling you.
We at Hanggul are the largest curators of pure and handcrafted Cashmere products. We are on a mission to revive this dying art by spreading our wings throughout the world. Our website serves as a window to our range of products that are luxurious and have the highest quality. We offer the widest range, certified quality, luxurious packaging and free shipping all over India.