Mongolian Cashmere

Mongolian cashmere is the world’s most luxurious and exclusive natural fiber. Discover its origin and the unique properties that make it so special.

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MONGOLIA – THE LAND OF SOFT GOLD

According to the famous Lonely Planet guidebooks, Mongolia is described as a destination for adventure where travelers can witness the historic traditions still practiced today by the hardened nomads of the vast steppes and desert lands.

Mongolia is the ideal country for lovers of the great outdoors. The nature is incredibly diverse which makes driving though Mongolia an adventure in itself. From the beautiful desert steppes and sand dunes in the Southern Gobi, to the mountainous regions in the west and the pristine lakes in the north: Mongolia’s nature will never bore you.

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Mongolia’s snow-capped mountains.

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MONGOLIAN NOMADS

Traditional Mongolian nomads have learned to live in harmony with nature by relying on whatever the land has to offer. They are famous for their resilience and survival skills in the harsh environments.

The nomadic lifestyle is not simply about animal husbandry. Herders are forced to learn to survive in nature by preventing possible dangers to their herds or family. Mongolians have had a long tradition of predicting the weather by using clues given by nature.

Even though Mongolia is the least densely populated nation with just over three million people, traditional herders are one of the last remaining nomadic cultures and there are 233,300 herder families tending to 70.1 million animals.

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A Mongolian nomad watching over his herd of goats

Mongolian herders are tending to herds of sheep, goats, camels, yaks and horses just as their ancestors did for over 2,000 years. These herders understand the land and its environment from traditional ecological knowledge passed down through generations and from daily experience. A herder’s knowledge is considered as “king knowledge” and the herders themselves as “the masters of a thousand skills”. This is because a herder becomes a meteorologist when they analyze and predict weather patterns, a botanist when they choose pastureland, a zoo technician when they feed cattle, a bio-psychologist when tending their livestock, an economist when selling wool, cashmere fiber, meat, and skins of animals, and a food technologist when preparing dairy products.

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MONGOLIAN GOATS

The superiority of Mongolian goats is in their biological features, especially for grazing on desert and high mountain pastures with the unique natural and climatic conditions of Central Asia. To survive the freezing winter, they grow an undercoat of fur consisting of long, fine fibers.

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Mongolian cashmere goats roaming freely.

There are about 29.2 million goats in Mongolia. 54% of them live in the deserts such as the Gobi, while 24% live in the Eastern plains and 22% in the Northern mountainous regions.

Mongolian goats enjoy the truly unique luxury of roaming freely in the beautiful steppes without being bound by any fences or walls. Unlike farmed and milled animals, they enjoy a 100% organic life, foraging for fresh grass and what Mother Nature offers. This generous environment, the unique weather and freedom are the basis of the world’s finest quality fleeces.

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Traditional Hand-Combing

After surviving the unique Mongolian winter, the start of Spring means the goats begin to naturally shed their excessive winter insulation. Mongolian herders hand-comb the undercoat from the goats, a symbiotic relationship with a positive result for both parties. The undercoat of goats are removed easily by hand-combing without damaging their skin or topcoat. It’s a totally painless process and the only cruelty-free method of harvesting cashmere.

Mongolian traditional hand-combing.

While this wise tradition is naturally labor and time-intensive for herders (compared to faster electrical shearing), it has many proven benefits. For example, combing by hand gives herders the opportunity to check on the wellbeing of their vital livestock. Moreover, combing the undercoat hair prevents entangling, the build-up of crust, and the breeding of various parasites. It helps the goats avert heat exhaustion in the upcoming warmer seasons and cultivate the growth of a fresh new coat for the next winter.

On the other hand, although using shearing machines is much more efficient for humans, it is considered to be stressful for cashmere goats. Shearing tends to remove both the undercoat and the much coarser overcoat layer. This results in the goats being left highly vulnerable to Mongolia’s dangerous weather conditions and opens up the possibility for a myriad of health problems.

The end product quality weakens too as cashmere loses part of its uniquely luxurious softness. This is due to the soft fine fibers mixing with the coarse guard hairs that have been removed by shears. It also has the potential to create blunt edges on the naturally combed strands. Hence herders much prefer the traditional method of hand combing in order to preserve the quality of the cashmere fiber.

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Mongolian noble fibre

On the freezing plains of Mongolia, animals have had to evolve over time to protect themselves; it truly is natural selection at its finest. The goats manage to survive by developing a thick layer of undercoat. One that is stronger and warmer than fibers found on other goats around the world. This cashmere is the life source of not only the goats growing them, but the people who herd them as well. It is the basis of Mongolia’s profound connection with cashmere.

Certificate of Mongolian Noble Fibre

Certificate of Mongolian Noble Fibre

The ultra-soft wool of the Mongolian cashmere goat favored by top fashion houses is the country’s greatest source of income after mining. Mongolia is also the world’s largest exporter of animal hair, such as cashmere from goats, camel hair, yak down and sheep wool.

The Mongolian Noble Fibre certification mark certifies that the product is made with 100 percent high-quality wool and cashmere sourced from Mongolia, that meets Mongolian and international standards for textiles and woven products, and fully complies with quality standards in an environmentally-friendly manufacturing process.

The Mongolian Noble Fibre certification mark certifies that the product is made with 100 percent high quality wool and cashmere sourced from Mongolia, meets Mongolian and international standards for textiles and woven products, fully complies with quality standards in environmentally-friendly manufacturing.

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Cashmere quality

HOW TO TELL IF CASHMERE IS HIGH-QUALITY

The Cashmere Goat Association defines “the quality of cashmere fleece by three factors: length, diameter and degree of crimping”. Industry standards dictate that the hair must be at least 3cm long with an average diameter of less than 19 microns (human hair can be up to 181 microns).

Mongolian goats produce a fiber length about a third longer than others. Cashmere fineness range from 14 to 19 microns and has an impact on the warmth and softness of cashmere.

The warmth

Cashmere fiber is up to three times more insulating than sheep wool. As a result, the cashmere garments made of Mongolian cashmere provide superior warmth. Cashmere is also hygroscopic, meaning it is a naturally breathable material (unlike synthetic fabrics). It also has a high moisture content, where fluctuations of humidity in the air also fluctuate the insulation of the garment, making it comfortable in all climates, even during the summer.

The softness

Cashmere fiber has a very narrow diameter making it extremely soft to the touch. To protect the term cashmere, the US Government enacted the “Wool Products Labeling Act”, which states that authentic cashmere has to be 19 microns in diameter or less. The colder the weather gets, the finer the cashmere becomes. Therefore, some parts of Mongolia even produce cashmere with a diameter between 13-14 microns.

Hence, Mongolian cashmere is distinguished by an incredibly soft finish, which is the result of delicate fibers that are almost silky to the touch. It doesn’t have the itchy quality of wool yet still provides insulating warmth without having to be wrapped in layers of it; hence the strong demand for true authentic cashmere.

The color

Every year Mongolia harvests 9,500 tons of raw cashmere from goats. White, beige, warm gray and brown are the four natural colors of cashmere and this makes Mongolia the country that provides the widest color range. Most of Mongolian cashmere goats (51%) produce beige colored cashmere while another 30% produce brown. 2% of Mongolian goats have warm gray cashmere (which is only found in Mongolia) and 18% have white cashmere.

ORGANICCASHMERE GOBIORGANIC CASHMERECOLOR

Beige

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Brown

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White

ORGANICCASHMERE GOBIORGANIC CASHMERECOLOR

Warm gray