The Cheap Cashmere Crisis

Good News for the Masses – Really Bad for the Environment. And What You Can Do to Help End It. Starting Right Now.

The Basics

Cashmere, the luxurious wool of Kashmir goats, is no longer the environmentally sustainable fiber that it once was. In fact, with the recent surge in demand in the past couple of decades, cashmere and other fine wool farming have become leading causes of desertification, a disastrous type of land degradation in which fertile land becomes desert.

Simply put, as the price of cashmere is lowered, the demand rises. To meet higher demand, herders must increase their herd size. When herd sizes are increased, the pastureland no longer has time to recover from the grazing of the herd, causing a devastating decline in vegetation and soil fertility.

Because of the simple relationship of supply, demand, and prices, cheap cashmere is largely to blame for the destruction of once-fertile land.

As consumers, we must look beyond a company's airy sustainability claims. The simple fact of the matter is that, well, anyone can put the word "sustainable" or "fair" on their website. And quite frankly, it's not possible for a $75 sweater made of 100% cashmere to be sustainable or high quality.

If you're in the market for a quality wool garment that's as gentle on the earth as it feels on your skin, it's always best to shop with brands that have certifications from trustful sources to back their claims. One or two certifications are better than none, but a company who takes sustainability seriously should have quite a few. As the age old saying goes… when in doubt, do without.

How The Problem Began

Beginning in 1990, an environmental crisis caused by changes in the world’s cashmere market began quietly emerging. As with most global environmental problems, this one festered away unnoticed until it reached its current crisis point.

How changes in the world market for cashmere, of all things, could possibly cause an environmental crisis requires some explanation. To fully understand this, we need to wind back the clock to two pivotal years: 1989 and 1990.

Prior to then, the world’s market for cashmere was in supply-demand balance, and the entire global cashmere industry was pretty much 100% environmentally sustainable.

Back then, wearing a cashmere sweater was a sign of quiet, understated luxury – something no respectable woman would dream of wearing without complementing its softness with a single strand of pearls.

At the time, well-heeled buyers in North America, Europe, and Japan bought cashmere because of the way its luxurious products made them feel. Unlike today, back then, cashmere wasn’t a product for the masses. Most people simply couldn’t afford it.

Meanwhile, in another part of the world, nomadic herders in Mongolia, China, Iran, and Afghanistan quietly tended herds of Kashmir goats. These animals – originally from Kashmir, a territory in the Himalayan foothills now claimed by both India and Pakistan – are the sole source of cashmere fiber, which is made into the world’s softest and most luxurious sweaters and other products.

Of the four countries listed above, Mongolia and China remain the world’s largest producers of cashmere fiber. Why? Kashmir goats grow the soft, billowy fiber that ultimately becomes cashmere in response to extreme cold (bone-chilling temperatures of -30°F to -50°F). And it’s only the extreme climates of northern China and Mongolia that reliably produce such teeth-chattering conditions.

While Kashmir goats grow this soft fiber all over their bodies, the longest fibers – which are the softest, best, most prized and luxurious – come from their underbellies, which grow to extra length to protect their vital organs during winter. It’s the finest of the fibers that Kashmir goats produce, the length and fineness of these fibers being the source of cashmere’s softness and longevity.

Once a year in April, just before the goats began to shed, herders used primitive combs to remove this most prized fiber. While this procedure may seem to be one not necessarily enjoyed by the goats – they’re actually eager to rid their bodies of the billowy fiber. In fact, goats left uncombed are often seen rubbing themselves against bushes and rocks to accelerate natural shedding by ridding their bodies of the fiber as warm weather sets in.

The procedure described above produces about 3-4 ounces of high-quality cashmere fiber per goat per year. In the end, it takes the fiber from 4-5 goats on average to make a cashmere sweater of the highest quality.

In short, prior to 1990, a multi-continent production chain produced a limited supply of extremely high-quality cashmere cloth that was made into luxurious products affordable only by high-income buyers.

Oddly, this global arrangement for maintaining cashmere as a luxury good solely for well-heeled markets in high-income countries was kept in balance – indeed, deliberately perpetuated – by communism (of all things!).

Mongolia – or more correctly at the time, the Mongolian People’s Republic – was part of the USSR, or Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

This was a sprawling, centrally-planned conglomeration of 16 nominally separate “soviet socialist republics” that stretched east-to-west from Europe to Japan.i All of the economies that made up this mish-mash of developing and quasi-industrialized countries were directed and controlled by the heavy hand of bureaucracies in Moscow. This included Mongolia.ii

All production decisions in this entire behemoth were directed and ordered by Gosplan – the USSR’s State Planning Agency – which had full authority to imprison folks who somehow got on their wrong-side. Gosplan made all decisions about what was to be produced, by whom, when, and in what quantity.

This included Mongolia’s Kashmir goat herders, who were pretty much content with this arrangement. As long as they fulfilled their annual quotas for cashmere fiber – not difficult to do, since they only had to tend small herds of goats – they were guaranteed a stable, if modest, salary, as well as other benefits.

Oddly, this arrangement was perfect for the environment. It was nearly 100% sustainable. 

Thanks to its communist government, private property was unknown in Mongolia at the time. This allowed small herds of Kashmir goats to roam freely, and to graze wherever they could find food.

From an environmental perspective, as long as the herds were kept at stable, manageable sizes, this was pretty much a completely sustainable operation. Though Mongolia’s harsh climate produced only a limited supply of grass and other vegetation for the goats to eat, that didn’t matter. There was plenty of land for the goats to graze on. As soon as one area of land began to be over-grazed, the goats would move elsewhere, freely roaming across commonly-held pasture land until they found an area more to their liking.

This arrangement – which depended on Mongolia’s land-abundance and low human population – allowed the sparse vegetation cover on which the goats fed to regenerate sufficiently for the goats to have enough food each succeeding year. This made cashmere fiber production in Mongolia an environmentally sustainable operation.

Meanwhile, back in Moscow, the USSR’s State Planning Agency ensured that herds were kept at relatively constant, small sizes. This guaranteed a limited supply of cashmere fiber for producing luxurious cashmere goods for sale in capitalist-country markets. It also ensured a stable – and impressively high – price for cashmere fiber globally.

The limited amounts of high-quality cashmere fiber produced under this arrangement were sold internationally for US dollars and British pounds. This gave the USSR access to hard currency that could be used to buy goods imported from the West. It also helped prop up the USSR’s lumbering, inefficient, communist economy.

Essentially, everything said thus far about Mongolia’s cashmere fiber production arrangement applied pretty much equally to what was then the People’s Republic of China, at the time a fully communist country.

As for the developed world, the arrangement described above gave well-heeled, sophisticated consumers in North America, Europe, and Japan access to the world’s limited supply of high-quality cashmere products.

And then, as they say... all hell broke loose!

The Global Cashmere Market Descends into Chaos – With Devastating Impacts on the Environment

In 1990 came the first rumblings of an economic crisis in Japan. However, from the end of the Second World War all the way up until then, Japan had been on a multi-decade run of high economic stability.

And then it suddenly began to collapse. Why did this happen?

Unlike the US, where workers save 2%-3% of their incomes, Japanese workers save 10% of their income on average. At the time, a large part of these savings flowed into the stock market. More specifically, it flowed into the 225 corporate stocks that make up the Nikkei Index, Japan’s version of the US-based Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The resulting rapid run-up in the Nikkei was given a huge boost by a real estate bubble nearly twice the size of that in the US during the early 2000s. In fact, money flowed so rapidly into the Nikkei that in the 15 years prior to its crash, it rose 900%, rising 30% in 1989 alone. On December 29, 1989, the Nikkei reached a peak. Following that, it dropped like a rock, never regaining its previous peak level.

This was a classic investment mania. It ended with a crash that wiped out trillions of dollars in wealth, with the Nikkei falling 50% in one year.iii Overnight, the Japanese “miracle” evaporated. Incomes fell drastically, and buyers who previously enjoyed consuming luxury goods on a scale their grandparents couldn’t even imagine, suddenly went empty-handed.

Japanese demand for cashmere imploded. All of a sudden, a huge chunk of world demand for cashmere was missing.

In short, in 1990 and the years following, the world price of cashmere took a major hit.

But that’s not the end of the story.

In that same year – 1990 – the lumbering USSR economy, – which by that time was being held together by the economic equivalent of duct tape and piano wire – began teetering and faltering like a drunken sailor.

As would later be revealed by his personal chauffeur, then-USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev had been making multiple secret trips to Finland to try to figure out how to reform the USSR economy in a last-ditch attempt to prevent it from imploding.

Gorbachev even sent a super-secret, month-long delegation of his closest economic advisers to an obscure, medium-sized family farm in Canada’s sparsely-populated Saskatchewan Province.

This odd delegation of Soviet bureaucrats lived together with the family in their spacious farmhouse, ate at their table, and spent many long hours asking the family questions in an attempt to figure out how farming works in capitalist countries. This is how desperate Gorbachev was to find a way to modernize the USSR’s collapsing agriculture sector.

But all to no avail.

In 1990, the USSR – and along with it, all of its communist satellite economies – came crashing down in a heap. The rest of the world first took notice of this on November 9, 1989 when the Berlin Wall – the very icon of communism vs. capitalism – came down chunk by chunk. While this made the Western world euphoric, the common people in the former USSR countries justifiably panicked.

World Bank and the International Monetary Fund tried to soften the blow with “transitional” funding, but most of that was for show, not substance. There was probably not enough available money on earth to fully support all of the citizens of the former USSR countries for the decade or more it would take to fully transition to capitalism.

Like everyone else, Mongolia’s Kashmir goat herders got wound up in all of this. To make ends meet, they began trying their luck as entrepreneurs. And they had to do this quickly, since the stable salaries and benefits they previously enjoyed had evaporated overnight.

These weren’t exactly folks who could find other jobs. They certainly couldn’t become Uber drivers or take part-time jobs at McDonald’s to make ends meet. Goat herding was all they knew. And frankly, it was the only job available to them, since nomadic goat herders accounted for nearly half of Mongolia’s population of 2 1/2 million at the time.iv In the end, the herders did exactly what one would expect them to do.

Freed from state-ordered quotas on cashmere fiber production, they dramatically increased the size of their herds. They reasoned that by increasing the amount of cashmere fiber they produced, they would increase their incomes, hopefully in equal measure.

Unfortunately, they didn’t factor into their calculations the dramatic decrease in the price of cashmere fiber from collapsing Japanese demand and its increasing supply from the demise of communism. The goat herders responded to this rapid decrease in cashmere fiber prices by increasing the size of their herds still further, in an attempt to boost their falling incomes.

In the end, the size of Mongolia’s Kashmir goat population multiplied many times over within a few decades. In 1990, the country had 4 1/2 million goats. Today they number 27 million.v

The impact on the environment of such a large and rapid increase in Mongolia’s goat population was devastating – just as it is today. Formerly, the country’s grasslands had time to regenerate before being grazed anew. But with such an increase in the number of goats, all of that changed.

The predictable result? Destruction of the country’s pasture lands. To make matters worse, unlike cows or sheep, goats pull up the vegetation they eat by the roots, which increases the amount of time required for regeneration of pastureland.

Large-scale, rapid loss of vegetation has a sinister long-term impact. When vegetation is abundant, water from snow and rain seeps slowly into the ground, replenishing the water table below. But when vegetation cover is removed, rapid runoff from rain and snowmelt carries precious soil nutrients away. This leaves behind only eroded soil that can’t support pastureland regeneration. Worse yet, replenishment of the water lying below the surface suffers. This makes the ground even drier and less able to support vegetation growth.

The process described above is the source of desertification, the conversion of once-productive land into desert, a process of environmental destruction that has plagued Mongolia since the USSR’s collapse in 1990. 

According to the United Nations Development Program, 90% of Mongolia’s land mass is now dry, fragile land under increasing threat of

Environmental destruction on this scale has resulted in malnourishment for many of the goats, as there simply isn’t enough vegetation to adequately feed the country’s burgeoning goat population. In addition, many of them lack proper veterinary care, due to their increasing numbers and the herders’ low income levels post-1990. Despite this, many nomadic herders are still determined to keep increasing the size of their herds in a desperate attempt to raise their incomes.

Due to the impressive reproductive capacity of goats, it would theoretically be possible for these herders to increase the size of their herds without limit. The problem? Mongolia’s supply of land is fixed. This means that any further increase in the size of herds in Mongolia – something that is ongoing – would only be forthcoming at the cost of yet more environmental destruction.

Actually, Mongolia’s environment is already in crisis, with an estimated 60% to 70% of the country’s steppe already being overgrazed. Some estimates suggest that in less than 10 years, goats and herders will no longer be able to survive there.vii

Despite its devastating impact on the environment, this rapid increase in the size of goat herds in Mongolia in the years following 1990 caused a dramatic increase in cashmere fiber output -- just as Japanese demand for cashmere products was cratering.

The result? A glut of cashmere fiber on the world market that remains to this day.

In the part of northern China known as Inner Mongolia, there are reports of stockpiles of cashmere fiber sitting unused in Chinese warehouses, and large-scale cashmere fiber processing facilities operating at half-capacity.viii And in Mongolia, there are similarly reports of herders eating their goats, as they‘re more valuable as food than as cashmere fiber producers.ix

Race to the Bottom: Cheap Cashmere for the Masses

If there’s one economic statement that’s true for all places and all time, it’s this: “You get what you pay for.”

In other words, when all is said and done, it’s the price of a product that’s the best indicator of its quality.

The reason? Taking all other factors into account, it’s simply not possible to reduce the price of something without reducing its quality.

There’s another economic statement that’s true for all places and all time: No producer who could sell an ultra-high-quality cashmere sweater for $800 would sell it for anything less.

Yet in the post-1990 market for cashmere, some brands are implying that you can buy a “high-quality” cashmere sweater for as low as $75.

As early as 1999, Rebecca Mead, a staff writer for New Yorker magazine reported a price range for cashmere sweaters being sold in New York City as follows:x

  • $1600 at Lucien Pellat-Finet boutique,
  • $900 at Marc Jacobs,
  • $250 for a cashmere sweater marketed by Banana Republic, and
  • $89 for a cashmere sweater at Club Monaco, a mid-priced Canadian chain,
    although to be fair, this was a short-sleeved sweater.

According to Mead’s research, a visit to virtually any large shopping mall in America would reveal a similar price range.xi

How could the price of a cashmere sweater vary so drastically across retailers?
The answer is that in the post-1990 market, all cashmere sweaters are not created equal.

Once the bottom fell out of Japanese demand for ultra-high-quality cashmere, and Kashmir goat herders began scrambling to make ends meet by increasing the size of their herds, the entire range of cashmere garment quality – from ultra-high to super-low – found its way onto retailers’ shelves in American shopping malls.

So what makes for an ultra-high-quality cashmere product? Well, it’s a number of factors.

Ultimately, it’s the fineness of the fiber that gives cashmere products their warmth, softness, loft, and luxurious feel. And there are two factors that measure cashmere’s degree of fineness: fiber length and fiber width.

As for length, most reputable manufacturers of cashmere cloth and garments agree that the length of fine cashmere fiber is 34-38 millimeters. When the length drops to 25 millimeters, spinning the fiber into yarn becomes more difficult, and the final product pills easily.xii 

And while goats grow cashmere fiber all over their bodies, the longest, softest cashmere fibers come from the hair on the goat’s belly. However, in an attempt to increase fiber output, some herders have taken to shearing their goats’ entire bodies instead of just combing their underbellies. This decreases the average length of the fiber, which in turn reduces its quality, and as a consequence, the price it fetches. In some cases, this also ends in animals freezing to death, as it removes too much of their protective coats.

As for width, Mongolian cashmere fiber measures 14-19 microns, with fine cashmere fiber being no wider than 16 1/2 microns. This is way finer than human hair, which averages 100 microns in width.

In addition, fiber width is not constant across Kashmir goat herds. It’s largely a matter of genetics and age: young and female goats produce finer fibers than old and male goats.

The color of cashmere fiber also affects its price, since this determines how easily it can be dyed in a wide range of colors.

Brown is the most common cashmere in Mongolia, with red being rarer. Light gray is rarer yet, and white is the most highly prized of all cashmere fibers because it can be dyed in the widest variety of colors. Fiber from the Zalaa Jinst white goat – the only entirely white breed in Mongolia – fetches the highest price.xiii

In addition, the manner in which cashmere fiber is harvested affects its quality. Fibers produced by traditional combing techniques are longer, pricier, and generally more desirable. Machine-sheared fibers are cheaper and shorter.

When you consider all of the above factors that affect the fineness of cashmere fiber, the quality of even garments labeled “100% cashmere fiber” can vary widely. This is in part responsible for the wide range of prices of cashmere sweaters quoted at the beginning of this section.

But there’s another factor at play, which for the most part escapes the notice of consumers wandering US shopping malls, frantically searching for the lowest-priced cashmere sweaters they can find.

That factor is that the prices of cheap cashmere products don’t take into account the cost of the environmental degradation caused by their production. Essentially, what’s going on here is that super-cheap cashmere products are being subsidized by environmental destruction on the other side of the planet.

Over the long term, environmental destruction exacts a huge cost on the earth and its human population. But since this cost isn’t immediately apparent, it goes unnoticed by shoppers oblivious to the environmental impact of their purchases.

Ultimately, the price at which sustainably-produced cashmere products are sold reflects the degree of environmental responsibility of the entire production chain used to produce them – from goat grazing to final sale. The opposite is also true. The prices of goods that don’t account for their negative environmental impacts ignore everything except the factors that directly affect their immediate profitability.

Another way to think about this is as follows.

In the US – as in all other developed countries – we have a “market-based” economy.

It’s the consumers who make all of these decisions. They do this collectively, just like in a national election in which voters collectively determine whom they want to run the country for the next four years.

Consumers make these decisions by spending their dollars (or Euros, or Pounds) on particular goods.

At the individual consumer level, every time you spend a dollar on something, you’re voting for more of that thing to be produced, because you’re financially supporting the producer who’s making that particular product.

Actually, you’re casting what might be thought of as dollar votes. You’re actually voting for more of whatever it is you’re spending your dollars on.

In the same way, every time you don’t spend a dollar on something, you’re voting for less of that item to be produced.

This is also true of the environment. Every time you spend a dollar on something that’s produced in an environmentally sustainable way, you’re voting for an improved environment, both now and in the future. In the same way, if you spend a dollar on goods that degrade the environment when they’re produced, you’re actually voting for environmental destruction.

So in the end, the choice is between a vote for cheap goods now, accompanied by environmental degradation, or a vote for sustainably-produced goods now, and an improved environment, both now and in the future.

When Buying Cashmere Products, Choose Wisely.

Many of the factors referred to in this article have allowed cashmere products of a wide range of quality and price to be brought to market. However, the steep declines that have occurred in the price of cashmere fiber since 1990 have similarly allowed mass production of cashmere products that in many cases have been disastrous for the environment.

In short, it’s best to research who you’re giving your money to. Ask yourself whether or not you want to support their environmental ethics or lack thereof.

Some producers take an environmentally sustainable approach to making and selling cashmere products, while others don’t. For the most part, it’s the environmentally sound producers and retailers that are making and selling cashmere products of the highest possible quality. When you take this into account, their “high” prices don’t seem so high after all.

Think of cashmere as an investment in your own personal legacy. Wouldn’t you prefer having just a small number of garments made of the highest possible quality that can last a lifetime to having numerous items to which you have no enduring attachment?

If you mentally answered “yes” to this question, then the following are the factors you should consider when shopping for cashmere.

Some cashmere garment manufacturers produce everything at vertically-integrated factories. In other words, all processing, dyeing, spinning, weaving, and stitching of the final product is done in one location. Such vertical integration offers many opportunities for minimizing negative environmental impacts. For example, the negative environmental impacts of shipping materials to multiple factories, each of which specializes in only one phase of garment production listed above can be considerable.

Other companies use only recycled cashmere garments, off-cuts, and production pieces that have gone wrong to make final products instead of using virgin cashmere raw materials.

Still other companies focus on animal welfare, ensuring that all goats that feed into their production process are well-treated (e.g., that the goats are fed organic foodstuffs, or are grazed on grasslands devoid of agrochemicals).

Still others encourage preservation of pastureland by giving herders incentives that encourage sustainable grazing.

Finally, some producers make their garments of high-quality Merino wool, which is cashmere’s closest competitor in terms of weight, feel, and quality of the final product. To make a single sweater requires the fiber from 4-5 cashmere goats. In contrast, one Merino sheep produces enough fiber for 8-10 sweaters. This uses far less pasture land to produce each sweater.

On the negative end of the consumer choice spectrum, there are a number of pitfalls that put savvy cashmere buyers on “red alert”. One of these is “fast-fashion” brands. 

Beginning in the 1990s, a number of fast-fashion brands began aggressively marketing cashmere as a commodity for mass markets. These brands are notorious for overlooking the negative environmental impacts associated with their production processes, such as excessive water use, textile waste, and carbon emissions. Typically, such producers tend to produce lower-quality products.

Writing for the website Good On You, Delilah Smith defines ‘fast fashion’ as “Cheap, trendy clothing that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed to meet consumer demand.”

According to Ms. Smith, “Its model is based on trends and their popularity among consumers. In order to meet consumer demand, fast fashion brands must have the resources to not only manufacture these popular designs quickly, but also dispose of them with equal speed to make room for incoming trends.”xv

Other than cashmere garments produced by fast-fashion brands generally, there are other signals that immediately raise the eyebrows of savvy cashmere shoppers.

One of these is playing fast and loose with label claims. Because a pound of 20-millimeter-long cashmere fiber trades for less than half the price of a pound of cashmere fiber 34-38 millimeters long, low-priced cashmere labeled “100% Cashmere Fiber” can legally make its way onto shelves in retail stores.

Another factor that savvy cashmere shoppers always consider is the ply count, which is the number of yarns that have been twisted together to form the strands from which cashmere cloth is woven. Cashmere sweaters usually come in one or two-ply counts, with the label indicating whether the garment is made of single or double-ply cashmere. The greater the ply count, the thicker the garment will feel, since double-ply cashmere is bulkier and thicker than single-ply.

Ultimately, remember this: Since 1990, the responsibility for choosing wisely when buying cashmere has fallen 100% on the consumer. In other words, Caveat Emptor – Let the buyer beware!

Ultimately, savvy cashmere shoppers know that quality comes at a price. That said, high prices don’t always guarantee environmentally sustainable production processes or ethical treatment of animals. That’s why it’s important to research the company you’re buying from.

One way to approach shopping for cashmere as a savvy buyer is to see cashmere as a long-term investment. Essentially, this involves “beginning where you want to end up”.

Instead of wasting time and money spending hours in shopping malls and reading labels, go right to the high-end retailers, such as the new direct-to-consumer brands.

One company you might consider is the newest comer to direct-to-consumer ultra-high-quality fine wool garments. This is allume (, which is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The source of their cashmere is a farm that:

  • Cultivates 8,600 acres of organic pasture land in Inner Mongolia,
  • Cooperates with numerous species protection programs,
  • Obtains its fiber from sources that use only environmentally-sound, cruelty-free
    fiber harvesting techniques,
  • Uses state-of-the-art spinning equipment imported from Italy, and
  • Participates in cashmere tracing programs that document the origin and integrity
    of its sources of cashmere fiber.

Baby cashmere goat with young boy

They are in full compliance with all major environmental certification programs, including:

GCS by AbTF – The Good Cashmere Standard, an initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation.
GCS’ objective is to promote animal welfare in cashmere production as well as social criteria for small- and large-scale herders, to protect the environment, and to promote biodiversity in Inner Mongolia.

GOTS – The Global Organic Textile Standard
To build a truly sustainable textile industry, GOTS evaluates the processing and manufacturing of textiles on the basis of both environmental and social criteria.

GRS – The Global Recycle Standard
Originally developed by Control Union Certifications in 2008, ownership of The Global Recycle Standard passed to the Textile Exchange on 1 January 2011. GRS is an international, voluntary, full-product standard that sets requirements for third-party certification of recycled content, chain of custody, social and environmental practices, and chemical restrictions.

ICCAW – The International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare
ICCAW is an animal-welfare-focused organization that operates in cooperation with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which develops and publishes international standards

RWS – The Responsible Wool Standard
RWS’ objectives are to

  • Provide the wool industry with a tool for recognizing the best practices of farmers,
  • Ensure that wool comes from farms that have a progressive approach to
    managing their land,
  • Practice holistic respect for animal welfare, and
  • Ensure a strong chain of custody for certified materials as they move through the
    supply chain.

SFA – The Sustainable Farming Association
The Sustainable Farming Association advances environmental stewardship, economic resilience, and strong, diverse communities through farmer-to-farmer networking, education, demonstration, and research. It helps protect and enhance our food- producing resources – water, land, air, and people – by advancing regenerative agriculture principles.

The Woolmark Company
The Woolmark Company promotes the manufacture and sale of woolen products because wool

  • Uses 18% less energy than polyester and nearly 70% less water than cotton to produce 100 sweaters,
  • Is 100% biodegradable and doesn’t contribute to microplastic pollution,
  • Is natural, renewable, and biodegradable, and
  • Is the most reused and recyclable fiber of the major apparel fibers on the planet.

US Department of Agriculture’s Organic Certification Program
USDA’s Organic Certification Program has programs, services, and educational materials that assist organic farms and businesses that are (i) already certified as organic, (ii) are considering transitioning all or part of their operations, or (iii) are working with organic producers.

With environmental credentials as impeccable as these, allume's commitment to offering the highest-quality cashmere garments possible and ensuring environmental sustainability is complete.

Our Favorite Knits

RS—01 Crewneck | $315

VF Merino Cashmere

RS—02 Hoodie | $345

VF Merino Cashmere

RS—03C Cropped Cable Knit | $345

VF Merino Cashmere

End Notes

i In addition to Russia, which was the former USSR’s seat of power, this conglomeration of countries included Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
ii Landlocked and wedged between Russia and China, Mongolia declared independence from China after the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911, but didn’t achieve actual independence from China until 1924. Shortly thereafter, Mongolia became the Mongolian People’s Republic, a country directed and controlled by the USSR, which had helped it become independent from China. With a population of just 3.3 million and a land area of 603,909 square miles, Mongolia remains the world’s most sparsely populated country.
iii “This is What a Bubble Looks Like: Japan 1989 Edition”,, what-a-bubble-looks-like:-japan-1989-edition-200197309, downloaded 22 May 2022.
iv “Crisis in Cashmere”, The New Yorker,, downloaded 20 May 2022.
v “Why You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap Cashmere”, World’s Finest Wool, should-not-buy-cheap-cashmere/, downloaded 19 May 2022.
vi “How Sustainable Is Cashmere?”, Harper’s Bazaar, news/a30184355/how-sustainable-is-cashmere/https://www.harpersbazaar.//com/uk/fashion/fashion- news/a30184355/how-sustainable-is-cashmere/, downloaded 19 May 2022.
vii “Why You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap Cashmere”, World’s Finest Wool, should-not-buy-cheap-cashmere/, downloaded 19 May 2022.
viii “Crisis in Cashmere”, The New Yorker,, downloaded 20 May 2022.
ix Ibid.
x Ibid.
xi Ibid.
xii Ibid.
xiii Ibid.
xiv This section draws heavily on portions of “How Sustainable Is Cashmere?”, Harper’s Bazaar, cashmere/https://www.harpersbazaar.//com/uk/fashion/fashion-news/a30184355/how-sustainable-is-cashmere/, downloaded 19 May 2022.
xv Smith, Delilah, “Fast Fashion’s Environmental Impact: The True Price of Trendiness”, 15 February 2021, Good On You,, downloaded 24 May 2022.

Our Collection