Mongolian nomads have long known that the key to keeping their grasslands healthy is moving their herds and maintaining a proper ratio of goats to sheep. Goats eat grass roots, sheep do not. In order to keep native grasses on the plus side of regeneration, they have, for millennia, raised more sheep than goats. But it's the goats that produce cashmere.
In recent decades, Mongolia has expanded its global trade connections and the world's love of cashmere has put pressure on herders and their traditions. Fewer sheep and more cashmere—producing goats are being introduced into herds. The result is overgrazing; Mongolia Plateau grasslands are in danger of desertification.
In hopes of turning the tide on this trend, we are in the first stages of a partnership with NOYA Fibers, a small group of passionate people working with The Nature Conservancy to improve the future of the Mongolia Plateau region. Building on the work done by existing herder cooperatives, NOYA is raising awareness about the importance of sustainable grazing and developing quality standards and supply chain traceability.
Our undyed cashmere is hand—harvested by goat herders who brush their flocks as they shift grazing grounds according to the seasons. The colors of the yarns-whites, browns and tans—are as nature intended. The end result is a material untouched by the process of fiber dyeing which gives the material an even softer hand and lessens the use of water, chemicals and energy. Patagonia makes a Men's Undyed Cashmere Snap-T® Pullover and a Women's Undyed Cashmere Cardigan.