Everything About Pashmina: Definition, Price, Origin, Development, and More
Pashmina (pash-mee-nuh), a name that one repeatedly hears in the fashion industry. From the finest craftsmanship to attractive designs, the cloth has been on the tongues of millions right from its origin. The soft feather-like touch of the fabric against the skin, the vibrant colors of the cloth, the mesmerizing patterns, and every other minute detail about the Pashmina has forced everyone to fall in with the cloth the moment it catches someone’s eyes.
There is a common saying in fashion by the great Inès de la Fressange which goes “The secret of great style is to feel good in what you wear.” Pashmina is the best way to prove this to anyone. The cloth is just simply so amazing to wear that it's been a contributor of great style for decades.
It’s been said, “Fashion is quite unpredictable.” The one thing that everyone loves right now, might not be seen tomorrow. A lot of styles come and go in and out of fashion, but pashmina seems to have outgrown all these changes to be immortal, and it is still going strong. The fabric is so amazing that it gets softer and softer after each use. How that happens is just beyond our understanding.
So many talks about pashmina. Don't they make you wonder how the fabric managed to get so much yet constant attention from everyone? Don’t you want to know what’s so great about the fabric that over the years it has managed to make everyone fall for it, every single time, without gaining a single hater? Let’s try to find the answer to all these questions.
What is Pashmina?
Generally, when anyone says pashmina, she means the product or accessory carved out from the Pashmina fabric. Pashmina is derived from the cashmere threads. These threads are woven together to create an opulent accessory. These cashmere threads are produced from the wool of the Changthangi Goat. The thread is called Pashm in Urdu and hence, the products created with this Pashm silk are generally called Pashmina.
The Changthangi Goat is quite exotic and can only be found in a single cold region of Jammu & Kashmir, named Ladakh, which is over 15,000 above sea level. Generally, pieces of clothing like shawls, stoles, scarves, and wraps are designed with pashmina. The reason why only wrapping cloths are carved out of the fabric is that the threads of Pashm are too delicate to be molded, folded, and stitched together to create complicated items of clothing.
Pashmina and cashmere are generally considered to be and are a single variety of clothing. Both of these fabrics are produced out of the Changthangi Goat. The only difference between cashmere and pashmina is that cashmere has a diameter that ranges between 12-21 microns, whereas that of pashmina ranges between 12-16 microns, making pashmina a slimmer and sleeker cloth at times.
Those who don’t know much about pashmina have always shown skepticism about the warmth of the fabric. Pashmina is truly, quite a warm and very comfortable fabric to put on and wear. Let’s put pashmina in this way that will clear every single doubt you ever had or have about the warmth of cashmere. Pashmina is said to be so warm that it has the power to hatch a wrapped egg.
Is Cashmere Pashmina Banned?
There is a rumor that fires up and gets down repeatedly in the industry related to the ban on the pashmina. A lot of people think that cashmere production should be marked as animal cruelty and a ban must be imposed on the same. Although, the facts have been that pashmina or cashmere has not been banned, ever by any regulatory authorities. The reason why pashmina or cashmere production does not verge on animal cruelty is that for the production of any cashmere cloth, the hair of the Changthangi Goat is used.
Some may allegedly say that the goat has to be killed to get the wool out but that's just not true. As the goat wool is the hair of the animal, it outgrows again over time. So, the owners will never kill the goat to get the wool back from the same animal repeatedly. Additionally, this carving of wool from goats is not to be confused with animal cruelty as the whole process is done quite gently to get the most out of wool. Sometimes, even if the goat is left the way it was, the hair or wool growth on their body would be so much that the weight of the wool would become the reason for the death of the animal.
Price of Cashmere Pashmina
Yes, cashmere pashmina is expensive and why won’t it be. The cloth is not very easy to weave out of the cashmere fabric. The craftsmen sometimes even spend years just to weave a few inches of wool. Whether it is the pashmina scarves or shawls or any other form of pashmina wrap, the price of these clothing accessories may even touch the sky just to make the cloth worth the effort put in by the weavers.
The elegance you get after simply putting on a pashmina shawl becomes worth every penny right after the feather-like fabric touches your skin.
How to Take Care of Pashmina?
There has always been some skepticism about how one should take care of such an expensive and dear fabric of cashmere pashmina. Firstly, remember that the hand-woven trusses of the fabric are quite delicate and require your utmost care. The things you do will be shown off in the product. It is always recommended that you dry clean your pashmina shawls or scarves. This adds to the life of the cloth and hence, you can wear the same on multiple occasions.
However, if due to any reason you can’t get your pashmina dry cleaned, there is always an option to hand wash the same. You need to wash the cloth gently. Pour all your love for the pashmina while you wash. Take some cold water in a separate bucket, and use gentle cleaners like baby shampoo as detergent. Dissolve the shampoo completely and soak your accessory in the same. After you wash the pashmina gently, hang it in shade and let it dry normally as it may.
Do not wring out the pashmina under any circumstances. If you want to remove the excess water from the cloth, you can always use a towel to do so.
You should always store the pashmina in a muslin cloth to retain its quality. Additionally, never use any form of naphthalene balls while storing. The smell may last permanently and take away the natural way of the fabric. The pashmina can never be dyed after you acquire it. The dye is added to the fabric either before weaving the threads of cashmere or after weaving to provide a solid color to the accessory.
You can iron the accessory but do that on a low heat setting so that you don’t stretch the pashmina out. Try to avoid ironing pashmina for as long as possible.
How to Tell if a Shawl or Scarve is Pashmina?
Some subtle but hard-to-find traits can prove whether the accessory is pashmina or not. Although only experts have the ability to filter out the genuine from the fake, you can also use some techniques to know whether a cloth is a pashmina or not.
- Firstly, the most common trait that sets cashmere pashmina apart from other fabrics is its softness. Even if the accessory is a fresh one, you can still feel that it has to be very soft and gentle against the skin for it to be a pashmina.
- Secondly, you should look out for the label of the accessory to find the composition of cashmere in the pashmina to determine whether it is an original one or not.
- Thirdly, you would be able to notice if the product is shiny bright or not. A pashmina, under any circumstances, is not shiny but damp. Additionally, it does not emit light (not transparent) but blocks the same.
- Nextly, as pashminas are handwoven, these accessories are uneven all around the surface. To check the authenticity of the pashmina, run your hand on the accessory and feel the fabric. You will feel lumps or collections of threads over the surface, shouting out its authenticity.
- Lastly, over the normal usage of pashmina, the cloth has an attribute to pill. The cloth will pill no matter how much you try and keep it safe. If the “pashmina” accessory does not pill, it means that there is a blend of synthetic in it.
How is Pashmina Created?
The process to create and weave any pashmina product is quite complicated and meticulous. Especially, when a pashmina shawl or scarves with embroidery is to be created, it takes the artisans over years to complete the process. This painstaking process is the main reason behind the huge price of the pashmina accessories. However, only the artisans in Kashmir and Ladakh have the extraordinary capabilities to carve and create an attractive pashmina shawl out of raw wool.
The process starts with the rearing of the Changthangi Goat. As the climate is quite tough in the mountains of Ladakh, the goat develops a thick layer of fine fleece over the outer cover of the fur. During the spring season, the wool is collected from the goat so that it grows back by the time of winter. As the goat starts shedding hair, the wool is collected from the fur by combing. After the collection, as the fur is dusty, the wool is dusted to remove the extraneous things from the wool.
As the fine wool is covered by the outer fur, herders also separate the outer fur to get the finest quality wool. Next, to provide extra strength to the wool, a blend of rice powder with water is added to the raw wool. With the help of the manual and traditional spinning techniques, yarn is created out of wool. Two or more layers of the yarn are collected to create the desired size.
After the required yarn is obtained, the same is washed in water so that it is ready to dye (is required). Unlike the synthetic colors used in other items of clothing, the dyer or ranger uses natural ingredients to create genuine and harmless dyes. After the yarn is ready, it is collected in the wooden spindles for further weaving.
Nextly, the Wovur, or the weaver of the pashmina shawl uses the yarn to weave, which is the most harrowing task in pashmina creation. After the weaving is complete, the Wovur washes the cloth in water to get it ready for finishing. The weaving process is completed with the help of traditional and ancient handlooms. This whole process is called Wonun in J&K.
Now that the complete pashmina accessory cloth is ready, the weaver provides some finishing touches to the product. As the thread of pashmina is quite delicate, it breaks repeatedly while weaving. Hence, these threads are clipped properly, and the Puruzgar removes the extra pieces of thread from the pashmina shawl.
Lastly, if the shawl has any rough or raw fringes, the Andgour fixes the same to provide a fine quality product.
How to Wear a Pashmina?
You don't wear a pashmina as much as you put it on. As the pashmina accessories include wraps of different kinds like shawls, scarves, and more. You can put these accessories on in various styles. You can wrap yourself, collect the accessory together and put it around the neck, and try various styles as you like. It is said that you should put on the pashmina in a way that feels natural to you. Try the style that makes you feel bold, vibrant, and authentic. The occasion that you are wearing the pashmina also matters a lot in the decision-making. The style you decide to put on a pashmina during any occasion decides how well you pull it off.
From Where to Buy Pashmina Shawls, Scarves, and More?
The mesmerizing beauty of pashmina is available around the world. Numerous physical and online stores offer a wide variety of pashmina shawls, scarves, scarves, mufflers, and various other accessories. One of the best benefits of pashminas is that they come in a varied price range, designs, patterns, and textures. You get the freedom to select from this range and get the desired product as per your requirements and likes. Various online stores are available for the pashmina lovers out there. These stores offer worldwide shipping to provide the best quality products around the world so that not a single individual has to look around and search for their favorite pashmina accessories.