Coinciding with the beginning of the cashmere harvest season in China, this year Cashmere World was held concurrently with APLF 2019 in Hong Kong from 13th to 15th of March. Similarly to other events held during APLF, sustainability was an essential component of the Cashmere World exhibition. “Cashmere as a luxury fibre deserves to be promoted in a sustainable and professional way,” insists Perrine Ardouin, Director of APLF. The consolidation of the supply chain and the demand for more creative designs are the other two major trends that marked the event.
Recently, the governments of China and Mongolia, two of the industry’s main cashmere producing countries, issued and enforced very strict environmental protection rules, intensifying scrutiny on cashmere production operations, and subsequently decreasing the number of breeding goats and cashmere output. This situation resulted in a spike in prices that was reflected at Cashmere World. Another factor affecting cashmere prices was the increasing demand for lamb in China; with higher prices for lamb meat, goats reared for fibres were supplanted by sheep, reducing cashmere production, according to the Schneider Group’s recently released annual cashmere market.
Sustainability is on everybody’s mind and is of particular significance to millennials, who are concerned about the transparency of the products they purchase. This has led manufacturers to increasingly buy cashmere directly from nomad families without involving middle men, allowing them to trace the cashmere in terms of location as well as quality. The result of this is a consolidation of the supply chain.
Quality, verifiability, land misuse and circularity are all pressure points that the industry should take into serious consideration. “There is growing pressure to meet new standards here and it may be wise for the cashmere industry to create an internationally acceptable industry body which sets standards and fights its corner,” suggests Ralph Goodstone, one of the founders of the Ethical Fashion Forum.
Design, design, design…
Another clear trend is the need for more creative and diverse designs along with increased fabric blends and mixes that sell in summer and thus extend the sales season. “In the past, brands used to provide their own design to their suppliers,” recalls Mohsin Sheikh of Le Cashmere, a leading manufacturer of high quality cashmere knitwear and accessories. “Today, brands expect their suppliers to suggest new creative designs and to provide them in smaller quantities.” This presents a challenge to manufacturers who henceforth need to become more fashion oriented and flexible in terms of quantity.