We use recycled cashmere (blended with 5% virgin wool) because of its soft, lightweight warmth.
In the 1960s and 70s, cashmere was used as a luxury material for overcoats, suits, and sweaters. Demand for cashmere grew as people became familiar with its soft, warm feel.
Today, cashmere is widely used throughout the industry as a commodity fiber, which is leading to overbreeding of cashmere goats, a decrease in fiber quality, and the desertification of the Mongolian region where the vast majority of cashmere goats live.
Patagonia uses high quality recycled cashmere to buck this trend and reduce the environmental cost.
We started using recycled cashmere in 2017 after reviewing our supply chain and noticing an increase in the overgrazing of cashmere goats in Mongolia.
Today, we collect pre-consumer scraps from European factories, send them to a sorting facility where they are meticulously sorted by color and then put in giant machines that shred the fiber. We blend those fibers with 5% virgin wool to create a strong, undyed yarn that we use to make sweaters, beanies, scarves and gloves.
We can meet our current needs by using recycled cashmere, so that’s our focus, but groups like NOYA are working on sustainable solutions for virgin cashmere, and we believe that’s important, too.