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The history and origins of cashmere

It is said that in the 13th century in some caves in Mongolia, Marco Polo discovered representations of wild goats, domesticated by man. It is highly likely then that all these centuries ago, cashmere goats or their ancestors were providing wool, along with their meat. It is credible that since the olden times some shepherds had been raising goats capable of giving wool extremely strong, light and soft, which provided excellent insulation. A blessing for those regions that have very harsh winters.

The term ‘cashmere’ arrived in the 16th Century, and was used to describe the shawls spun by Kashmiri craftsmen on the Silk Route bound for India. Fast forward to the late 18th century and the first historical evidence of cashmere trading becomes apparent. Cashmere shawls were being exported to the West, particularly to Britain and France. Arriving first in Paris, it quickly became the most sought after, and expensive, status symbol of the day. They became popular in different woven designs, primarily paisley like designs they was bought by women from the wealthy upper classes, who kept themselves warm as they dressed in Neo-Classical style with short-sleeved, high-waisted dresses.

In the early 19th century, the Empress Josephine, first wife of Napoleon of France was rumored to have hundreds of cashmere shawls, but a century later, cashmere featured mainly in jumpers and cardigans. Now though, brands are showcasing cashmere in a wide range of styles – from dresses to accessories and from jackets to trousers.

In the modern day, Cashmere is being majorly produced by China. They produce a raw clip of over 10,000 metric tons per year. Major brands all across the globe have Cashmere as a part of their winter fashion lines. Major brands like Elspeth Gibson, Louis Vinton, Marks and Spencer and Principles have dedicated luxurious cashmere collection. It is unlikely that this covetable fibre will ever go out of favour with designers, and its widespread availability means it is now more accessible than ever to the masses and not just the privileged.

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