The story of Pashmina begins in the Kashmir valley of India, where for centuries, skilled artisans have spun, loomed and embellished gossamer-thin, luxurious fibre from the world's finest fleece. The Changthangi goat from Ladakh, India, inhabits extremely harsh living conditions and as a result, produces a feather-light, exceptional fibre that is perfect for luxury scarves and shawls.
4,000 metres above the Himalayan plateau, Changthangi goats endure severe wind chills and extreme temperatures, which can fall as low as minus 40 degrees. The harsher the conditions, the finer and more lightweight the fleece and these goats produce the finest fibre in the world at just 13-19 microns, a stark comparison with human hair, which is over four times as dense, at 70 micros.
For centuries Changathi goats have been an integral part of the communities of the Kashmir Valley, not only providing a livelihood but continuing the age-old tradition, provenance and culture associated with the Kashmir scarf. These consecrated animals are revered – they receive regular blessings from the village leaders and their fleece, which sheds naturally in spring, is gently combed by hand with minimal stress to the animal.
For the last two decades, Kandis has been collaborating with Kashmiri mens’ cooperatives to produce Pashmina scarves and shawls using traditional, artisanal techniques. For nearly three centuries, Kashmiri designers have been creating and perfecting delicate and charming patterns that are unique to this fabric.
Following local custom, women clean and hand-spin the yarn, which is passed on to the highly-experienced male artisans for looming and embroidery, using a variety of age-old techniques, handed down across generations. Raw pashmina has a lovely natural colouring which can range from an off-white of the goat's finest inner fleece, to a stone grey.
The pashmina fleece demonstrates amazing versatility, being highly breathable and versatile due to the extreme weather conditions the fibres endure, it can be worn in any season and will retain its beautiful handle over many years of wear.
Pashmina is not only valued for its superlative softness, texture and fineness, but for its durability. With a life expectancy of 300 years, each piece, which is initialled by the maker, is created to be worn, cherished and handed down through generations.