Cashmere is made from the hair of goats living in the Gobi desert, which stretches between Northern China and Mongolia. Hair from the undercoat is used for cashmere clothing, meaning workers have to comb the belly of the goats when they molt to collect the hair and then separate the undercoat hair from the topcoat hair by hand. However, the goats only molt once per year, and because only the undercoat is used, it takes about four goats to make one sweater. The entire process of creating a cashmere sweater means that, from goat to your closet, it can take some serious cash to look and feel good.
However, a handful brands have found a way to sell cashmere goods at a more attainable price point while following sustainable business practices. Cashmere is an investment; shop the eco-friendly cashmere items below knowing they’ll last season after season.
Eco-friendly cashmere under $200
1. Gobi Flare Hem Dress, $199
This rib-knit flare dress is made with 100 percent Mongolian cashmere. It’s a Mongolian-owned brand that has combined traditional roots with modern innovation and technology for almost 40 years. The brand is a member of the Sustainable Fibre Alliance and works to produce environmentally friendly cashmere while preserving the livelihoods of herding communities. This dress is also available in black, white, taupe, and lilac.
Shop now: Gobi Flare Hem Dress, $199
Wrap yourself up in this long cashmere cardigan by State Cashmere. It was founded in New York City by Hao Rong, a Mongolia native whose grandparents were shepherds. The brand works directly with shepherds from Inner Mongolia and aims to produce cashmere staples that are seasonless and with proper care, can last you a lifetime. All of the goats are groomed, fed a healthy, and get plenty of exercise and play. This cardigan is also available in camel, burgundy, navy, and gray.
Shop now: State Cashmere Open-Front Cashmere Long Cardigan, $170
3. Naadam Recycled Cashmere Jogger, $195
There’s nothing cozier than recycled cashmere joggers made by Naadam, a brand that’s committed to sustainability. From combing by hand to providing veterinary care, they work to ensure the goats used to create their pieces live a happy and healthy lives. To help prevent overgrazing, the goats live in a fenced-off area that’s roughly the size of Manhattan. For Naadam’s new recycled line, the brand puts its excess fabric and yarn in a machine that breaks it down into fibers and then re-spins it with 30 percent new cashmere. To get all the cozy feels, pair it with the matching Recycled Cashmere Hoodie ($195) or Recycled Crewneck Sweater ($195). The set is also available in dark teal, merlot, cement, and black.
Shop now: Naadam Cashmere Jogger, $195
4. Italic Cashmere Mockneck Sweater, $65
A good mock neck sweater is truly timeless, and Italic’s is too pretty to pass up. Italic specializes in providing a real direct-to-consumer experience. The pieces are made by the same manufacturers as high-end brands like Alexander Wang and Armani and sold to you at a fraction of the price. To get these deals, you have to become a member. It costs $120 for the year, but considering the deep discount, the brand states that 97 percent of buyers break even on their first purchase. This style is also available in icy blue, black, ivory, and petal pink.
Shop now: Italic Cashmere Mockneck Sweater, $65
5. Naked Cashmere Rhone, $195
This cropped V-neck cardigan is made from 100 percent pure recycled cashmere. The cashmere yarns carry certifications for being sustainable, fair trade, and following animal welfare guidelines. The outer packaging is made of recycled cardboard, and each piece comes with a reusable biodegradable storage bag to help protect so that it lasts forever. This sweater is also available in black and a light blue-gray.
Shop now: Naked Cashmere Rhone, $195
6. Quince Mongolian Cashmere Crew, $50
Available in nine colors, this cashmere crew neck sweater is just as cute as it is affordable. Quince only works with factories that pay fair wages to their workers and produce goods in a sustainable manner. The brand prefers to use mid-sized family-run operations that have employed the same workforce for many years, but it also works with larger operations that employ rigorous ethical standards.
Shop now: Quince Mongolian Cashmere Crew, $50
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