The non-profit organisation Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) has developed the world’s first standard for sustainably produced cashmere, called The Good Cashmere Standard. It takes the cashmere goats’ welfare into account while incorporating social and environmental standards in cashmere production.
Once a luxury product that was combed out by hand by nomadic herders when the goats changed their coats in May, now cashmere has become a mass market product that is no longer obtained naturally but by brutally pulling out the goats’ hair on special farms. This is how it is possible to buy a cashmere sweater at a discount store for 49.99 euros or 42 pounds instead of more than 300 euros or 250 pounds at a luxury boutique.
The Good Cashmere Standard wants to stop this practice and joins the current discussion about the welfare of the cashmere goats and the increasing demand for transparency and corporate responsibility that this natural product demands. “The Good Cashmere Standard improves the cashmere production on many levels. It covers both the welfare of animals, the protection of nature and the working conditions of farmers and farm workers. It has been developed in close collaboration with animal-rights specialists and independent cashmere-production experts,” says the Foundation in a press release.
New cashmere standard campaigns for animal welfare, social change and sustainability
For now, the standard’s focus is on Inner Mongolia where it has started off with 2,000 farmers. The cashmere goats here are kept by settled farmers rather than roaming broad pastures with nomadic herders. The farmers are certified only if proven to be in compliance with the standard’s criteria.
“The Good Cashmere Standard provides a standard for the important resource cashmere. It meets increased consumer demand for sustainability, quality and transparency. Many consumers want to be certain that the textiles they purchase were produced in accordance with social and environmental standards and that no animals were harmed in the process,” confirms Tina Stridde, managing director of AbTF.
The way it works is that the cashmere farmers initially complete a comprehensive series of questions about their livestock-keeping practices. Based on the results, independent third parties then visit the farms to verify the claims. They also check on the proper implementation of the standard.
Brands and retailers join in
A key stakeholder for The Good Cashmere Standard is the Erdos Cashmere Group, one of the largest producers of cashmere, based in Inner Mongolia. “Erdos has been an important partner and supporter for the new standard from the beginning and they will offer and process certified cashmere wool already this year – in addition to four other producers,” says AbTF.
When it comes to brands and retailers, one of Germany’s leading cashmere retailers, Peter Hahn, has brought in their expertise and is the first retail partner of The Good Cashmere Standard. “We are thrilled to be partnering with this new standard from the beginning. It meets our high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection and creates greater security for our customers and even more confidence in our company. With The Good Cashmere Standard, we can offer them products made of cashmere wool that meets the strict criteria of the standard for animal welfare and environmental protection,” comments Patrizia Strupp, head of sustainability at Peter Hahn.
The new standard now offers businesses their first opportunity to sell products made from certified, sustainable cashmere wool from Inner Mongolia. “The demand for The Good Cashmere Standard is correspondingly great. This sends an important signal to the entire textile and fashion sector,” adds Stridde. Apart from Peter Hahn, additional fashion brands including Bestseller, H&M Group, Hugo Boss, J.Crew, Madewell and Lacoste have already joined.
Photos: Erdos Cashmere Group, Aid by Trade Foundation, Erdos Cashmere Group