More Than a Scarf
Pashminas are the ultimate luxury accessory and a must-have item for any wardrobe. Balancing comfort and warmth with decadence and style, they have the ability to transform any outfit with their timeless elegance. Smart enough for the most formal occasions yet casual enough for the school run or a shopping trip, you simply cannot go wrong with a well-chosen pashmina which complements your skin tone.
What is a Pashmina?
The word pashmina is usually used to refer to beautifully soft high-quality shawls. But pashmina is actually the name of the superior wool the shawls are made from. Taken from the underbelly of mountain goats living in the Himalayas and then carefully hand-woven by craftspeople living in the Kathmandu valley, pashmina is one of the finest natural materials on the planet.
The pashmina fabric is soft yet strong and manages to be both warm and light-weight. Its value has been recognised for centuries in Asia, but something so good could not remain a secret from the West forever and pashmina products are now loved and cherished all over the world.
How are Pashminas made?
Making an authentic pashmina is a pain-staking and time-consuming process which is reflected in the exceptional quality of the material.
Farmers living in the Himalayan regions of Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia and Kashmir climb the mountains every summer to comb the fine woollen undercoat of mountain goats. These animals known as Chyangra goats live at altitudes of between 12,000 and 14,000 feet and survive temperatures of lower than -40C in winter due to the thermal insulation offered by this inner layer of wool, which is six times finer than human hair.
The farmers typically manage to collect up to eight ounces of pashmina from each goat and it is so fine it must be hand-woven. The process to make a single plain pashmina shawl takes an average of between 200 and 250 hours of labour with decorative and embroidered pieces taking even longer. These hours of work are reflected in the extraordinary quality of the products.
The history of Pashmina
Pashmina wool has been woven into material for more than a thousand years. Valued by royalty and members of the nobility in Asia for its luxury and elegance, pashmina shawls have been worn in wealthy households since the 15th century.
In the 19th century, pashminas enjoyed a brief spell of popularity in France when Napoleon gave one of the shawls to Empress Josephine as a gift. Although, pashmina shawls and other products remained popular in Asia over the centuries, it was not until the late 1990s that they gained wide-spread attention in the West when designers in New York, Paris and London started including them in their fashion collections.
How can I tell if my Pashmina is high quality?
All the pashminas we sell at Della Kaur are authentic superior-quality pieces. But there are different grades of material and some pashminas are made with blends which can include silk, cashmere or other wools. There are also differences in the way pashminas are woven with one-ply, two-ply and four-ply available. The best way to find a pashmina which is right for you is to try a few out and feel the quality of the material for yourself.
View our range of high quality Pashminas for sale online or visit our store in Magdalene Street, Cambridge.