Is Cashmere Cruelty-Free?



by Becky // in Clothing

When you step out in a cashmere item of clothing, you’ll, without a doubt, get a few stares of admiration.

Cashmere is a rare and luxurious fabric that comes at a hefty price. In most cases, you’ll see it on celebrities and other moneyed big leagues.

But the process of making this fabric will make you think twice about rocking it to your next event.

Is Cashmere Cruelty-Free?

While cashmere isn’t made directly from killing goats, numerous goats die of cold stress once they’re shorn in the winter. To make matters worse, goats that don’t produce a certain quality of wool to make cashmere are sold for meat production. Therefore, the process is, by far, not cruelty-free.

If you’re not familiar with the process of cashmere production, no one will blame you for admiring and wanting to have this fabric in your closet. Indeed, it’s a stunning and comfortable fabric.

But if you’re keen on living a vegan lifestyle and steering clear of any form of animal cruelty, you have to begin by educating yourself.

Here’s everything you need to know about cashmere production.

The Process of Making Cashmere

A goat with cashmere wool

Cashmere wool, commonly referred to as cashmere, is a type of fabric that’s popularly derived from the Kashmir goat.

However, some producers also obtain it from pashmina goats and other breeds of goats. This wool is more luxurious and preferred than sheep wool due to its finer, stronger, lighter, and softer quality. Besides, it’s more insulating compared to sheep’s wool.

A total of five goats are needed to make one cashmere sweater. For this reason, thousands of goats are reared for cashmere production.

There has been a common misconception that cashmere is a cruelty-free fabric for many years.

After all, no killing happens to produce this luxurious wool and fashion designers would assure buyers that the goats were completely safe and protected throughout the entire process.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. For starters, fashion designers have little to no clue about what happens on production farms.

Most designers get woven wool that’s ready for production. Therefore, their cruelty-free claims aren’t reliable.

What’s more, the process of producing cashmere isn’t as peaceful as many have been lead to believe. Here’s why.

The Shearing Process Can Be Extremely Stressful for the Animal

If the process of obtaining cashmere wool from a goat were as simple as giving the animal a fresh new haircut and it didn’t take too much of their much-needed wool – it would be considered cruelty-free.

But this isn’t how it happens. To obtain the wool, the farmer has two options. They can either comb through the coat or shear it to get the cashmere.

Combing is way gentler and easier on the animal compared to shearing. However, most farmers prefer to go the easier route of shearing because it saves them time compared to combing through the goat’s coat.

However, the goat suffers in the process. You see, the animal has to be chained down or sat in place to avoid movement during the process, which isn’t always a peaceful process.

The farmer then goes in with a huge knife and cuts as close to the undercoat as possible. The reason for doing this is to ensure they have plenty of cashmere wool.

Consequently, it isn’t unheard of to cut into the goat’s skin. What’s more, the process is done in the winter, and goats don’t have enough fat to protect themselves from the harsh weather.

Unfortunately, not all goats survive the winter season.

Farmers Prioritize Profits Over Animal Lives

Another reason why vegans have sworn off cashmere is due to the farmers’ lack of concern for animal lives.

While no animal is killed to produce cashmere, animals that don’t profit the business ultimately die.

Goats with any of the following characteristics are sent for meat production:

  • Animals with disabilities
  • Goats that don’t produce the quality of wool expected for cashmere
  • Animals in their old age
  • Young goats with any defect that may affect the quality of the wool

Therefore, even though cashmere production doesn’t directly lead to any animal’s death, it’s still a cruel industry.

Any animal that doesn’t meet the farmers’ profit needs will ultimately die before reaching old age. The farmer has to bring in profits one way or the other.

Native Wildlife is Killed to Protect the Industry

If you’re a farmer in the cashmere industry, all your goats are an investment.

You’ll, therefore, do everything in your power to ensure nothing harms your source of livelihood.

This is the kind of reasoning that the majority of cashmere farmers hold.

Often, wild animals will find their way into their farms and kill the goats.

When this happens, the farmers go as far as killing the native wildlife to protect their profits.

Therefore, it’s not only the goats that suffer in the process.

Numerous animal lives are lost in the process just to ensure someone gets that cashmere sweater they’ve been coveting, and a farmer puts a meal on their table.

The Process Affects the Environment Too

In the past, cashmere was a rare fabric you’d only find among the rich.

And if a family member had a cashmere sweater, shawl, or another article of clothing made of this fabric, they’d pass it down from one generation to another.

However, over the years, things have changed. Today, there’s more demand for the fabric, and farmers do everything they can to meet this demand.

Unfortunately, their efforts are to the detriment of the environment.

You see, to produce more cashmere, farmers need to rare more goats than the usual.

For this to happen, they need plenty of food to feed their ever-growing livestock.

The overpopulation in rearing lands is gradually leading to damage, with most regions slowly becoming deserts.

And while it may seem like the effect is only felt in the areas where these goats are reared, the impact affects the entire planet by creating an ecological imbalance.

What Can You Do?

A goat standing in the snow

If you’re dedicated to being part of the movement to end animal cruelty, wearing cashmere is something you may have to forego.

There’s nothing chic about wearing a fabric that not only puts an animal in danger but also endangers the sustainability of the environment.

And although brands dealing with cashmere try to be as transparent as possible, they can’t promise no form of cruelty took part in producing their items since they can’t be sure of what happens on the farm.

Alternatively, you can buy recycled or reused cashmere. Because this fabric is natural, it is biodegradable and therefore safer for the environment than synthetic materials.

Therefore, you won’t be encouraging new production or generating more waste.

Make the Right Choice

Ultimately, the decision to wear or not wear cashmere is yours.

However, it’s advisable to consider the repercussions of that fashion decision. As you have seen, although goats are not killed to produce cashmere, the production process isn’t entirely cruelty-free.

Animals that don’t meet quality standards are sold for slaughter, and the same fate applies to older animals.

The shearing process is also not gentle since there’s a risk of cutting the animal when the knife is passed close to their undercoat.

What’s more, because production is mostly done in the winter to meet demand, most goats die due to the cold weather. And let’s not forget the impact large scale cashmere production has on the environment. 

So, is that cashmere sweater worth it?

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