And the worst & best can be found in Mongolia, where the average temperatures in winter can dip below -20C. "To put our cashmere in context," explain Nick Falkingham & Adam Holdsworth, the duo behind Pure Collection, "conditions in Scotland are not as intense and goats quickly revert to a long, coarse coat. Consequently, the cashmere has an inferior quality."
How the cashmere is collected also affects the quality of the final yarns. Once spring has sprung and the goats no longer need their winter coats, the cashmere fibers are carefully combed from the animals. Each goat produces different quality fibers which also adds to how time-consuming and labor-intensive it is to produce the raw materials that go into the luxurious sweaters & knits we all love so much.
Plus, there's the cost to the environment, which Pure began addressing almost a decade ago. "Working closely with the herders, our purpose was to tackle the root cause of desertification caused by over-grazing of the cashmere goats in the Mongolia grasslands." Since 2003, the company has been attempting to source 100% of its cashmere from goat herds farmed sustainably, a goal which they finally reached in spring 2008. "It was Adam's father who establish our relationship with cashmere when he first traveled to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, when it could only be reached by train," they add. "He met a family of nomadic herders who traveled the endless steppes of this vast inaccessible country, carefully looking after their goats in the often inhospitable conditions. He saw how carefully the looked after their goats and was impressed with the quality of the cashmere they produced, and began to trade with them. It is his relationship that ensures our cashmere is bought from the finest source in the world."
Fabulous cashmere is a fashionista must-have, be it a chic scarf, a sexy dress, snuggly leggings or the Winter Wardrobe 101 foundation piece: the sweater - whether you choose a v-neck, a crew, or a very Grace Kelly'esque cashmere scoop neck sweater.
- Lesley Scott