Sustainability has been a thorn in the side of the cashmere industry for decades, and in the current climate and biodiversity crisis, the effects of our insatiable need for fast fashion have been brought into sharp focus.
There is an alternative though and a way to help support the delicate balance between herders, their grazing animals, and the land.
Now, more than ever, with the climate emergency at the forefront of our minds, we all need to shop sustainably and to ask questions on how our purchases affect the planet. So, as a conscious consumer how can you enjoy cashmere, and feel confident that it is a sustainable and ethical buy?
WHAT IS CASHMERE?
One of the world's most luxurious fibres – traditionally, and rather romantically, cashmere is combed from the underbelly of goats in the Kashmir, Gobi Desert region, and Mongolia. Natural and non-allergenic, garments can last for decades – if looked after properly - even improving with age. It’s biodegradable (unlike synthetic fibres) and decomposes quickly. Organic, functional, soft, durable, breathable, and beautiful, cashmere that is traded fairly can support the livelihood of traditional nomads. At Knüg, we source only the finest cashmere from Inner Mongolia, bringing you stylish and sustainable pieces to cherish for a lifetime.
AFFORDABILITY COMES AT A PRICE
Fast fashion has resulted in a glut of cheap, inferior cashmere flooding the market. The cheaper the cashmere brand, the more likely it is that it hasn’t been sustainably or ethically produced. To meet the world demand for affordable cashmere, herders have increased their goat populations hugely, causing severe overgrazing and degradation of grassland habitats.
A VICIOUS CYCLE
The result is undernourished goats with coarser hairs and a reduction in the supply of high-quality cashmere. Desertification, climate change and economic hardship drive herders to increase their flocks to make up for lost revenue and the destructive cycle starts all over again. Harvested cashmere can also be subjected to the same unsustainable processes as many other fibres - including bleaching and use of synthetic or toxic dyes, all carried out by underpaid workers.
KNÜG SETS A SUSTAINABLE STANDARD
At Knüg, we’re different. We ensure our cashmere is of the highest quality, fully traceable and sourced from the coldest parts of Inner Mongolia, where the fibres grow longer on the goats, protecting them from the freezing elements. The fibres are also finer and better quality for spinning and knitting. Only the absolute best fibres, (Knüg’s are GOTS [Global Organic Textile Standard] certified) are spun into a beautiful yarn on Italian machines. We use non-toxic dyes, avoid bleaching and our cashmere is OEKO-TEX certified. The finished yarn is skilfully knitted by the oldest, specialist cashmere family business in Nepal: working ethically and sustainably they support the families who work for them by educating their children and paying far above the minimum wage. Your Knüg garment is less likely to pill or get holes, staying beautiful and wearable for longer.
HAPPY, HEALTHY ANIMALS PRODUCE THE FINEST FIBRES
The gathering of cashmere fibres, when carried out carefully, has little negative effect on the goats and they enjoy a free-range life. The herders we work with comb the goats’ underbellies to collect the moulting fibres during only the spring months, when they would naturally lose their winter coats. This practice conforms to strict standards of animal welfare. Shearing is a more efficient method but results in decreased quality and is more stressful for the animal.
A KINDER FUTURE FOR CASHMERE
Knüg works with a leading cashmere yarn supplier - accredited by the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA) - which has pioneered good practice to protect cashmere supply. The herdsmen engaged by them operate rotational and seasonal pasture management measures, learned over generations, to restore and maintain the health of grazing land and increase their resilience to climate change.
COMFORT AND STYLE TO LAST A LIFETIME
Have you been inspired to treat yourself to a classic cashmere investment piece for your wardrobe? Our customers tell us that once you have bought a Knüg wrap or button poncho, you’ll find it hard to resist returning for another. Take a look at our exquisite new 100% sustainable cashmere collection here.