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Pashmina for the Positively Conscious - An Ethical Story

March 4th, 2021 | 1018 views
Pashmina for the Positively Conscious - An Ethical Story

“Slow fashion is about designing, producing, consuming, and living better. This fashion is not time-based but quality-based (which has some time components). This does not mean the opposite of fast – there is no dualism – but a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers, and consumers are more aware of the impacts of products on artisans, communities, and ecosystems.” 

Kate Fletcher, “Slow fashion” for The Ecologist, June 1, 2007.

The past few decades have witnessed a spurt of interest in the luxurious and royal art of “Pashmina”. Once the exclusive domain of Indian and European nobility, it is today falling off the racks of top high-fashion brands and is now ubiquitous as it once was at royal palaces. As the demand for “Cashmere’ is rapidly growing among the middle class, high-fashion retailers are feeding consumers with quantity, as opposed to quality. Of course, this has led to a considerable reduction in price as well. Cashmere has always exuded an air of aspiration; it has always been timeless. For many, it was no less than an investment, which is why it was considered a symbol of exclusivity. In the last decade though, this art has been “disrupted” with fake blends and machine-made products.

Wooing the world

This sublime art first came into existence for a functional purpose. Every year, when winter’s biting winds howl over the coldest places over the world, including Kashmir, the resident mammals don their protective undercoat. The luxurious fibres of these discarded undercoats have for millennia been plucked or combed out by the local communities and recycled for their own use. Of all these animal fibres, the down from some breeds became more popular and came to be known as pashm or internationally, Cashmere.

A Muslim shawl-making family shown in Cashmere shawl manufactory, 1867, chromolith., William Simpson.
A Muslim shawl-making family shown in Cashmere shawl manufactory, 1867, chromolith., William Simpson.

From at least the 16th century till the 19th, Kashmir was the sole region where the skills existed to exploit fully the qualities of pashm – not only its warmth and softness but also its capacity to retain natural dyes and to weave it into a polychrome textile of superlative delicacy, an object of desire for neighboring and distant elites. From the third decade of the 20th century, cashmere emerged as a premium material for the highest quality of knitwear and woven fabrics and as a result, production increased astronomically, the bulk coming from China and Mongolia. Later, selective breeds undertook experiments. This diluted the purity of this soft under-fleece.

Sustainable fashion - need of the hour

In the flood of fast fashion, we at PASHM believe there is a dire need to propagate slow and sustainable fashion, or in other words, the ‘anti-fast-fashion movement’. Being the largest curators of pure hand-made and hand-embroidered Cashmere products in the online sphere, our motto is to celebrate timeless elegance in an ethical fashion. Our styles do not adhere to fast fashion trends, rather timeless and classic pieces that will stand the vagaries of time, both with respect to style and immaculate quality.

Ethical Fashion is at the core of our operations. The masterpieces we offer at PASHM follow ethical fashion exactly from the procurement of Cashmere from Ladakh to the final weaving. Herders at Ladakh treat animals in the most considerate way as far as their food, shelter, or acquisition of Cashmere from their bodies is concerned. This Cashmere is processed with out the use of machines, and its makers are compensated fairly.

Artisan weaving on Hand Loom
Artisan weaving on a traditional Hand Loom

The skilled artisans painstakingly design each of our pieces that exhibit the highest levels of craftsmanship. The art of weaving Cashmere is an ancient and highly skilled practice. The master weaver, who is responsible for translating exquisite designs onto the loom, requires an eagle eye. We truly believe in the adage ‘Less is More’ because the quality of our products matters a lot. Weaving and hand-embroidering on Cashmere is a labour of love and for us. That is how Pashmina is handcrafted. Appreciation of the quality and longevity of our products screams sustainable fashion.

Intricacy in every step

Every step requires utmost precision and care – right from hand-carding to winding of yarn to twisting, dyeing, and then embroidering; it is certainly not child’s play. These workers’ skills shine through our pieces, and it is essential for us to convey the story of each piece to our customers.

Pashmina Artisan doing Embroidery work on a Pashmina Shawl
Pashmina Artisan doing Embroidery work on a Pashmina Shawl

Our products – pashmina shawls, wraps, scarves, hijabs as well as throws and blankets – take inspiration from the glorious heritage of Kashmir and its picturesque beauty.  Our pieces depict the mystic nature of this land. This is through distinctive elements and largely a great workmanship. It tells the story of the indigenous Kashmiri weavers and reflects the hallmark of purity and sustainable luxury. Our diverse range of Pashmina products blend in elements of comfort and style and are feather-light, sublimely soft, and unbelievably warm. Believe us, it feels like magic on your skin.

To many, sustainable luxury might not sound as appealing. We believe in preserving the heritage of Pashmina, but “boring” isn’t a word in our dictionary. Our collection has an eclectic interplay of colours, exquisite design, and of course, traditional weaves. We understand the diversity of taste among our clientele and we like to cater to each of you. To make it simple, we amalgamate sustainable fashion with style

Giving back to the artisans

There’s no meaning of “sustainability” if you cannot give back to the artisans who work tirelessly for you. We believe in working towards the upliftment of these communities. These gifted artisans lose their sheen in the market of high-fashion retailers. Besides, this art, which once employed women artisans has now witnessed a substantial decline. This is due to the surge in demand for machine-made blends at a lower cost. We endeavor to empower these women artisans as a part of our ethical fashion focus. We contribute towards the education of their children as well, by giving $10 from every sale of our product.

“The best product is one that makes citizens look at their community with fresh eyes".

John Thackara

Our goal is to be restorative and regenerative by design. Fashion is about luxury and style, but also a responsibility. With the exposure of ecological living, there’s a gradual shift towards sustainable fashion. We still have a long way to go! Come, be a part of this movement and help artisans flourish!

Also read: Kashmiri Artisans - Hands behind the Craft

We, Pashmina.com, are the largest curators of pure and handcrafted Pashmina products in the online space. We are on a mission to revive this dying art by spreading our wings throughout the world by way of our online platform. Our website serves as a window to our range of products that are luxurious and have the highest quality. We offer the widest range, certified quality, luxurious packaging and free shipping to over 150 countries.

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