The Story of Cashmere

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What is Cashmere?

Cashmere is shed down annually from goats living in the high, dry plateaus that stretch from northern China into Mongolia, surrounding the Gobi Desert. In order to survive, these goats have coarse hair that repels the bad weather. Beneath that external coat lies a much finer fiber, cashmere, which insulates these animals from the bitter cold.

Cashmere is the most sleek, soft and luxurious natural fiber in the world. And we need highest standards to process it. As spring comes, and before the goat begins to moult, the shepherds and their families, begin the laborious work of combing the precious under fleece from their goats. The combing season lasts three to four weeks and the amounts produced are small – around 200-250 grams per goat. The next task is to collect the raw cashmere. Cashmere is collected in its three base colors – brown, grey and white and is sorted by hand to remove impurities. First the fiber is treated to remove dust, and then gently washed. Cashmere consists of a coarse guard hair and down which has to be separated. Only after washing and the hair has been removed, by which time it may be reduced in weight by as much as 50%, is the cashmere deemed top quality. Cashmere like all the best things in life has an eternal quality.

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The history of cashmere!

The word “Cashmere” comes from Kashmir, a historic region of harsh and mountainous northern India. Actually material from Tibet is produced in Kashmir as cashmere. It is well known that more than 50,000 craftsmen wove cashmere products in 16th century in India.

For the Roman Empire only royalty could afford to indulge in the pleasures of cashmere. Napoleon started a fad for cashmere shawls when he gave his second wife, Empress Eugenie, seventeen of them. A celebrated “ring shawl” of style, Empress Eugenie who made cashmere fashionable Legend has it that her shawls were so fine; they could be drawn through a ring.

At the end of 19th century, Scottish manufacturer Joseph Dawson set out to invent a machine, which could perform the delicate separation without damaging the soft fibers. He succeeded and thus made possible the commercial production of cashmere. The innovation made cashmere manufacture center move to Scotland, and it indicated the beginning of a new century of cashmere products.

Recently the center moved to China, the original producing area of cashmere. Now China has become main exporter of cashmere textile after introducing lots of Japanese advanced technologies and equipments and perfect quality controlling system.

elaine madigan cashmere
elaine madigan cashmere

Elaine’s path has been one filled with passionate creativity and a designer’s penchant for juxtaposing style and functionality, blending the world of innovative imagination into the everyday and ubiquitous.