Hardly any other material is as cozy as the precious fluff of the cashmere goat. But the precious good is increasingly becoming a cheap product – with serious consequences. Muntagnard offers a new sustainable solution to this well-known problem: recycled cashmere. A reinterpretation of the natural luxury fiber.
Anyone holding a cashmere garment in their hands immediately recognizes why the fluffy material is so popular: The fine fibers feel incredibly pleasant on the skin, have a heat-regulating effect and do not crease.
The goat with the precious hair
Nowadays, cashmere clothes are no longer a great luxury, but affordable for every budget – and that is precisely what is becoming a major problem. That was not always so:
- 1810: Napoleon Bonaparte gave his wife 17 shawls made of the finest cashmere as a wedding present. A tradition that seems irrelevant, but is central to textile history. Because it shows how important the material was at that time. Depending on the quality, a cashmere cloth could have the value of a today’s small car and was therefore an absolute status symbol for elitist circles.
- From around 1800: The accessory draped over the shoulders became an indispensable part of the wardrobe of wealthy ladies of the Empire and Biedermeier era.
- From the 1920s: It was only with the knitting revolution that cashmere clothing made its way into the mainstream and became a must-have in every wardrobe.
- today: Factory farming and industrialization have made cashmere clothing cheaper and easier to produce. The former luxury fiber thus blossomed into a mass product.
How is cashmere made?
Anyone who has ever heard how cashmere is made understands its value. The fibers are obtained from the downy hair of cashmere goats, known as “duvet”, which develop their precious fur as protection against the cold in the autumn and winter months. It can only be brushed out by hand once a year in spring. Only the thinnest and longest hair results in high quality fabrics. The undercoat of 3 to 4 goats is needed to make 1 sweater. For comparison, shearing a single sheep produces enough wool for 3 to 4 sweaters.
In addition, cashmere goats cannot be bred everywhere: the genus is only viable in the high mountains of India, China, Mongolia and Iran .
From luxury to mass-produced goods
The fact that something so rare triggers a feeling of luxury and desire has not changed in past centuries. On the contrary, because now there is hardly a fashion label or discounter that does not carry the material in its range. cashmere As a result, it is subject to wide price ranges like no other material – from CHF 2,000 designer sweaters to 70 francs bargains, everything is included.
With cashmere it is, as always, with cheap mass-produced goods: someone pays the price that it can be offered here at ridiculous prices. Both humans, animals and the environment:
- Treatment with chemicals
In the case of cheap cashmere, for example, it is not uncommon to treat the coarser outer hair of the cashmere goat with environmentally harmful plasticizers.
- Terrifying circumstances
Where there is more demand, there must be faster, cheaper productions and more goat herds. According to estimates by Animal welfare organization PETA Around 140 million goats are kept in Mongolia and China, together they are responsible for 90% of global cashmere production. Unfortunately, animal welfare and sustainable environmental standards often fall by the wayside in such “mass productions”. The keeping of goats was and is probably still brutal in some cases: For example, many producers are accused of tearing the fur out instead of brushing it out.
- Long transport routes
There are no cashmere goats in our latitudes. This results in long transport routes that cannot be neglected in the life cycle assessment.
- Overgrazing leads to devastation
The rapid increase in cashmere production also brings environmental problems with it: a goat eats up to 10% of its weight in herbs and grasses every day and pulls the plant and its roots out of the earth when it grazes. In some areas this leads to the destruction of former pastureland.
- Intransparent supply chains
The cashmere wool passes countless middlemen. For consumers and even for companies, it is not always easy to understand where the textile fibers come from and whether farms adhere to specified animal and environmental protection standards. In order to prove sustainable and cruelty-free production, more and more certificates are being used. However, their expressiveness and credibility in today’s jungle of certificates represent an additional challenge.
CONCLUSION: There is no such thing as cheap cashmere and this fine fiber has its deserved high price for a very good reason.
Cashmere is a luxury and the natural raw material should be allowed to retain this status. We at Muntagnard are therefore all the more proud that we have the Luxury fiber can now offer an innovative recycling solution with a clear conscience .
Recycled cashmere as a golden fleece
As is so often the case, the most sustainable alternative is to use what is already there. We at Muntagnard therefore rely on recycled cashmere.
“With recycled cashmere, regenerated cashmere strands are spun into new yarn. This results in a substantial reduction in environmental impact and prevents unnecessary harm to animals compared to new cashmere. In addition, water consumption and the use of chemicals are reduced to a minimum, as this is a purely mechanical production process. ” explains Dario, Head of Brand at Muntagnard.
Our partner from Italy specializes in collecting cashmere and wool waste from factories, shredding it and producing high-quality recycled yarn from it.
Since recycled cashmere fibers are shorter than new ones, some suppliers usually add up to 50% new cashmere fibers. We at Muntagnard mix the recycled cashmere with 3% recycled merino wool to give the yarn additional stability and robustness.