Cashmere's rarity and softness are sought after by both those who love to collect the pieces and those that do not want to sacrifice warmth for fashion. Its history rocked the Silk Road as it became known as "soft gold". Traditions continue today in Mongolia, just the same as thousands of years ago, to produce the finest cashmere in the world. GOBI supports these traditions.
The tradition of nomadic life for those that raise cashmere goats has not changed since the beginning of the fiber's fame. This nomadic lifestyle appeals to a staggering third of the country's population. Herds of goats are guarded over in the open steppes by the Mongol herders. Even after technological advancements in agriculture, these herders continue to stay true to their nomadic lifestyle.
Nomadism requires a deep understanding of their animals and nature. By observing the weather and staying in tune with nature’s life cycle, herders know when to begin relocating their homes. In the winter, they move to the base of a mountain to shelter from harsh winter blizzards. In the spring, they relocate towards rivers and lakes in search of fresh water and vegetation to aid in the release of the hairs to cool the goats, enabling the combing process to begin. During the rest of the year, they move around the steppes as the weather changes to increase the health of both their families and their herds. This knowledge passed down from thousands of years of herding is what helps produce the softest, best quality cashmere that is the warmest and lightest in the world.
Within a nomad's herd, you can find the necessities of everyday life. They keep cattle such as yaks, horses, camels, sheep, and of course, goats. The animals provide transportation, food, milk, toys, and materials to craft clothes. They are even able to ferment horse milk to make their famous vodka drink, which is offered to visitors.
Other than crafting and creating meals from their livestock, the nomads use their animals as their main source of income. The products they sell become the money they use to buy the things they cannot harvest or make in the fields. They must be masters of both nature and their animals to make the most from their lifestyle. Their movements are dedicated to the health and wellbeing of their herds, making them the best producers of cashmere in the world.
Obtaining the fiber
The process of obtaining the fiber to begin processing is done annually. As spring thaws out the ice and the goats are subjected to warmer temperatures, their cashmere undercoat naturally begins to shed. In Mongolia, the traditional hand-combing technique is still used by nomadic herders to gather cashmere fibers. The comb’s teeth are blunt and widely spaced apart to reach past the outer coats to obtain the soft down undercoat. This process is essential to the health and wellbeing of the goats as it prevents them from overheating in the summer and removes any pests that might be lingering in between the dense layers of coat.
Due to Mongolia's icy climate, the goats have evolved over a millennium to produce thick coats of cashmere fibers, one that is thinner and longer than any other cashmere fibers in the world. These fibers still retain the softness and heat storing properties after enduring the harsh Mongolian climate, making it more special than any other cashmere in the world. The best for making quality cashmere clothes that is extremely soft to the touch and warmer than any wool.
These nomads and their traditional lifestyle are why we are so proud of our products. It is because of the care and naturally harmonious consideration of the nomads that we can trace our products back to where they came from. Our products help preserve a way of life, a culture and a craft. Visit GOBI to learn more about the Mongolian nomadic lifestyle.