A sought-after fiber, cashmere is luxurious and delicate, as it stems from Hyrcus goats.
We more or less all know this. But how and where does the culture of this precious wool originate, in which stories does it have its roots? We try to explain the origins of the cashmere culture, and understand how it is possible to make it eco-sustainable and modern.
The origins of cashmere: a story of effort and tradition.
Tradition has it that the cashmere myth was born from the communities of the mountainous regions of Asia, originally from the slopes of the Hymalaya chain, as well as the Tibet and Ladakh regions.
These communities, mainly dedicated to sheep farming, were living at an average height of 4000 meters, and raised the now famous Hyrcus goats, the only ones from which it is possible to obtain the precious yarn.
In fact, given the very harsh climates of the highlands and mountainous areas from which they come, shepherds used to collect the fleece that their goats naturally released from their girths in spring, to obtain yarn to weave, and cover themselves from the cold.
It is no secret, how the fleece of the goats is much warmer and more insulating than the wool of sheep origin. Three times more insulating than sheep wolf, actually. Much softer, much more delicate, much more valuable. And lasting.
From Mongolia to us: the cradle of a millenary culture.
The real origins are however lost in the sands of time. Legend even tells that it was Marco Polo, on one of his trips to Mongolia, in the land of the Khan, who was the first to discover cavern murals of the Hyrcus goats. We are talking then about the 13th century AC, roughly.
Fast forward to 19th century, the moment when in the commercial routes from East to West, historically the yarn has been discovered and appreciated, tying together distant cultures and traditions. Appreciated over time, it has reached the present day practically unchanged in its candor and quality, blessing the most refined fashion creations.
How cashmere is collected and produced: an all-natural treatment.
The nature is prodigious, and the miraculous fiber we love so much is one of the best representations of it.
In fact, the Hyrcus goats, exposed to the very rigid winter climates of the Asian steppes, with temperatures that easily reach -40° Celsius, are covered with a thick fleece of wool formed by long hairs, which can measure up to 18/20 centimeters each. From their underbelly comes the famous “kashmir”, the wool that Mongolian shepherds know and collect so well.
Yes, they collect it: you got it right.
They collect and comb the fibers from the underbelly of the goats in a natural process, at springtime, when the fibers float, as the goats are simply shedding their winter coats. No animal is shorn, badly treated, or exposed to any risk to its health. Everything is natural and handmade.
In the specific case of NUN1970, the whole process takes place transparently, and our suppliers are certified to the highest standards on the market.
High quality fibers and treatmnet: the creation process.
The sought-after high quality of cashmere is due to the purity of the yarn and the fiber section (between 14 and 18 microns). The longer and thinner this fiber, the more precious the cashmere you get.
The yarn used, to be truly the finest, must always be an underbelly fleece called "duvet", with the typical "two ply" twisted threads, with a count of 2/28000, coming from Mongolia. For this to happen, after harvesting, the producers specifically treat the yarn in the best way.
Nuances and colorways: getting to the final threads.
Once the fibers are amassed from the goats, then it’s time to dye and create different nuances of colors. At NUN1970, we use a mix of natural plant-based dyes to create simple and sustainable colorways. We avoid bleaching, in any case, to keep the fibers as natural as possible.
Also, plant-based colors don't leave the cashmere fibers too matted, hence teasing them is not always necessary, but it can help to leave them open. Doing this way, the dyed fibers stay naturally soft, ready to be worked in the next phase, the blending.
Cashmere can be blended with different colors, or different fibers, like other types of wool, or silk, to create amazing solutions and different qualities of pureness for a different type of treatments in the fashion industry.
From the rovings to the yarns: twisting and spinning.
Finally, once the cashmere fibers are completely dyed, and eventually mixed with other colors or fibers, it’s time to create the threads. Thin threads usually know as "rovings". The soon-to-come precious garments is taking the shape we all know, within a process that is almost unchanged since the 1800s, to this very day.
The weaving part of the process is finally ready to happen.
It's finally time to lay out the patterns of the cashmere garment. The thread is ready to give birth to the desired style and shape. As a very versatile fabric, being lightweight, comfortable and resistant, cashmere can keep you warm in the cold and cool in the heat.
For this reason, his fashion applications are endless. His sustainability and lasting are hardly beatable if the garments are properly taken care of.
Preserving the cashmere culture, keeping it clean: our mission.
Once you know how the whole process takes place, the story behind a "simple" yarn, you probably understand why we say that not all cashmeres are made equal, and that there is a precise reason if this fabric is considered luxurious and, when the highest quality standards are met, expensive.
This precious legacy is a treasure of humanity and hard work.
That's why we are committed in supporting the local pastoral communities in Mongolia, giving you full transparency and ethical luxury standards. We want to preserve the culture, and make a positive impact, to protect the wildlife and the traditions. Through the sands of time, again and again.