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what animal does cashmere come from how is cashmere made 6 1609902390663

The history of cashmere traces its roots back to a very remote time, when in the Himalayas the diffusion of Tibetan goat breeding linked to this precious fiber. But it is especially with Italy that cashmere established, since the Middle Ages, a particularly strong and enduring bond.

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Indeed, it was the trades along the Silk Road that first brought raw fibers from Asia to the Venetian and Tuscan ports. Hence began the rise of cashmere as a sought-after fabric, thanks to the skilled manufactures that were becoming established in the north of the country. Over the centuries, Italian workers perfected spinning techniques, ennobling cashmere and making it a synonym for superior quality. Even today, workshops scattered throughout the territory hand down this centuries-old legacy, updating it with innovation and creativity.

 

Cashmere thus maintains a special and indissoluble link with made in Italy and its tradition in the wool industry. The tricolored artifacts continue to represent globally recognized excellence in functionality and timeless style.

 

History of Cashmere: Himalayan Origins

The origins of cashmere should be traced back to the ninth century B.C.., when the Tibetan goat was widespread in the rugged valleys of the Himalayas.

 

Zoological studies have shown how this goat, scientifically known as Capra hircus laniger, has adapted perfectly over the centuries to Himalayan environments due to certain anatomical and physiological peculiarities. These include its distinctive fleece, composed of two types of hairs: the thick and coarse outer guard hairs and the inner woolly coat of smaller diameter and length, known as cashmere.

 

It is precisely the latter that gives the goat the prerogative of annually providing the precious underlying fiber, which is light and soft and universally recognized as ideal for making best Italian cashmere. Even today, the selective breeding of this Himalayan breed guarantees its raw material supply to the world textile industry, which for centuries, as we shall see, has found in Italy the center of highest artistic expression.

 

Cashmere wool: trade along the Silk Road

A key role in the commercial spread of cashmere belongs to the exchanges that, starting in the 13th century, developed along the overland routes of the Silk Road.

 

Historical documents attest to how the firstborn cashmere cities, such as Venice and, to a lesser extent, Florence, became the main European landings for caravans coming from Central Asia, laden with the precious raw fibers harvested in the Himalayas. Taking advantage of the geographic location on the Adriatic and Arno rivers, Italian merchant masters were able to establish profitable trade, importing large quantities of cashmere from the remote production territories to the nascent manufacturing districts of the Po Valley.

 

This flow initiated the transformation of cashmere from a mere luxury good for the aristocracies, to a noble fabric appreciated throughout Europe, thanks to the unique skill in its processing that was being consolidated precisely in the workshops of the cashmere Italy.

Cashmere wool and craftsmanship in Italy

Over the centuries, the textile areas of northern Italy specialized in the ennobling of cashmere, refining the techniques of processing in a tradition unparalleled in the world.

 

Thanks to the experience gained in silk spinning, workshops in the Po Valley benefited from exploiting similar manual skills for processing the soft Himalayan fiber. Following processes that were still partly artisanal, they perfected skills in unwinding, combing and twisting cashmere yarns to enhance their softness and durability.

 

Over time, the complete Italian supply chain, “from the piece to the package,”established itself as an unparalleled quality center, capable of expressing through weaving the highest performance of the excellent raw material. All this made the history of cashmere signed by the traditional tricolor craftsmanship famous in every corner of the globe, still a guarantee of the highest quality standardizations in cashmere.

 

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