“I wrap myself in Mother’s cream pashmina and look in the mirror. She stares back. Resemblances run deep in our family. Ancestors lay claim and features are passed on like antiquities, every new life an ode to another” writes Gurjinder Basran as she describes the magic of the Pashmina.
The history of Pashmina is as rich as its texture, woven from the Valleys of Kashmir, Pashmina, is a luxurious and exquisite fabric which is the finest type of cashmere wool. The word "cashmere" is derived from the anglicised version of Kashmir.
“Pashmina" comes from the Persian word "pashm," meaning ‘soft gold’; this 'Soft Gold of High Asia’ was introduced by Persian travellers and traders in the region. It was not for nothing that Empress Josephine owned like a hundred of them. Pashmina gained popularity and recognition due to its association with royalty. The fine, soft wool was favoured by kings and queens in the Himalayan region and beyond, contributing to its status as a luxurious textile.
This material originates from the high-altitude regions of India, Nepal, and Tibet, where the Changthangi or Pashmina goat thrives in extremely challenging climates and has taken a dive into the fashion world. The Mughal rulers of India, known for their love of art and craftsmanship, significantly contributed to the popularity of pashmina. Mughal emperors and nobility were patrons of the fine arts, and pashmina textiles were highly valued in their courts.
It all begins in the Spring. Pashmina is woven from the ‘downy hair’ of the ‘Changthangi’ goat native to Ladakh and Tibet. This process is very labour-intensive. Herders delicately gather the fine wool in a very humane and ethical way in compliance with the natural cycle of these goats, which reflects the deep connection between herders and their livestock. We must tell you the production of pashmina is generally considered more environmentally friendly compared to some other textile processes. The goats are well adapted to the harsh conditions of the Himalayas, and their wool is a sustainable resource.
Then the Hand-Spinning begins……
Post-harvesting, Skilled Artisans ‘Hand-Spin’ the Cashmere wool, then transforming the wool into yarn. This tradition and age-old technique is often inherited by women. This process preserves delicate fibres and reflects the unique individual artistry to every strand. Why do you think the Pashmina is renowned for its incredible softness and warmth? The fine fibers make it lightweight yet highly insulating, making it a popular choice for high-quality winter accessories.
The raw Pashmina is then cleaned, then spun into fine threads, and woven into a luxurious wearable art by experts and skilled artisans. Each artisan infuses their skill and artistry into every piece.
You must know that we at SoulWeaves exclusively interweave certified Pashmina wool in crafting our textiles, through a long process, the hand-spun yarn, created from this premium wool, is woven into handlooms, resulting in the creation of fine Pashmina textiles.
There is living in the Dye-ing
Natural dyeing of Pashmina is a common and old age tradition, Kashmiri artisans with their skilled hands, use natural dyes extracted from plants, flowers, and minerals. This eco-friendly method protects the environment and the fabric with colour of the Kashmir Valley. In fact, Pashmina shawls found their way to Europe through trade routes and became fashionable during the 18th and 19th centuries. They were particularly popular among the elite, including European royalty and aristocracy.
Our team has always believed in supporting traditional herders and the tribe of authentic craftsmen of Pashmina, to ensure that their trade and art is preserved without being exploited. Certified Pashmina is a non-negotiable and the commitment to offer quality and authentic Pashmina is a given. What started with the British East India Company playing a crucial role in the export of pashmina shawls to Europe, has continued with lovers of the art like us that continue to support a thriving trade industry.
But how did we get to Fashion?
Pashmina has been a glorious prestige of Indian and Persian kings and royal families for its luxurious qualities. From India and Persia, Pashmina went on to gain widespread popularity across Asia and It was in the 18th and 19th centuries when Pashmina shawls made an entrance into the European fashion scene. Its luxurious Appeal enchanted the aristocracy of many parts of Europe.
Renowned Designers of the Fashion Industry enchanted by the Pashmina, made it featured on international runways. Many high-end fashion collections of many designers, like Kashmir-born designer Zubair Kirmani included Pashmina, which elevated the status of this Himalayan treasure.
Pashmina also enchanted many celebrities, when Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts to Emma Watson and Nick Jonas were spotted wearing Pashmina Shawls, the celebrity influence established it as a must-have accessory for those with a keen eye for luxury and made it a symbol of opulence. From Traditional attire to Contemporary Fashion, from street Style to Bohemian Fashion, Pashmina's versatility has embraced each Fashion Trend.
The Pashmina’s elegance and timelessness goes beyond fashion; The absolute journey of Pashmina from Himalayas to the Runways, enhances aesthetics, preserves the cultural heritage, bridging ancient artistry with modern fashion. The luxurious appeal, the sustainable practices, the softness and warmth makes its legacy in the world of fashion long lasting. Pashmina Shawls are in the Fashion industry to Stay and Slay! So when a Ross in F.R.I.E.N.D.S says “I am in love with these babies” we surely agree!
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