It’s hard to find cashmere that deserves to be called “conscious” or sustainable. In fact, a lot of people would say it’s hard to find because it does not – and cannot – exist.
The process of creating cashmere is so inherently detrimental – requiring lots of resources, and incurring lots of environmental degradation – that it can’t be had in a way that isn’t harmful.
Cashmere happens to feel like you’re being hugged by a cloud every time you move. It’s warm, it’s soft, it’s cozy.
So the imperfectly perfect solution is to recycle the cashmere we already have on earth, rather than creating more.
It’s a sustainable logic many retail startups are adopting – phasing out virgin materials and swapping in ready-made alternatives. Everlane’s Renew outerwear is one example.
LA startup Reformation has released a line of “conscious cashmere” that is 70% recycled. Almost every sweater is $148, which is relatively affordable in terms of the quality. It feels the same, costs about the same ($148) but has markedly less impact on the environment.
On average, one kilogram (about two pounds) of recycled cashmere has 80% less of the environmental impact than conventional cashmere.
Reformation’s conscious cashmere is limited but covers the classics: crews, cropped crews, cardigans, boyfriend sweaters, and boxy sweaters – all priced at $148.
Fisherman sweaters are priced at $228. Colors range from one to five options per style, and most are classics like tan, black, pink, ochre, grey, and green with some striped patterns in the mix.
However as stated above this is still an imperfect solution. If 70% is recycled, that means 30% is still conventional cashmere from Mongolia.
While offset by recycled materials, nothing truly “new” is ever as sustainable as something not new. And though the company has stated they’re currently working on their traceability initiatives to ensure the supply chain is ethical, it seems they are not in place as of fall 2018.
Reference- The Business Insider, Reformation website, Everlane website