Cashmere is typically made from the soft undercoat of Chinese and Mongolian cashmere goats, their wool dominating the market as a ‘luxury’ product. The goats can be kept in terrible conditions and are shorn in the midwinter, at a time when they need their coats the most, and as a result, the animals can die of cold and stress.
Now David Lee, founder of dancewear brand KD New York, has set out to change this by creating vegan cashmere from vegetables.
He describes the new Vegetable Cashmere™ as “a proprietary blend developed to address the increased demand for cashmere and the associated environmental costs”.
According to Lee, the vegan alternative “matches animal cashmere in softness with superior drape and breathability”. It also has anti-bacterial qualities and is machine-washable.
Developing the fabric
Lee started developing the cashmere by collaborating with a factory experimenting with soy-based yarns. In a bid to replicate the look and feel of animal cashmere, a blend was developed using soy, and a proprietary blend of fibers. The plants used in the material are all certified organic, and the soybean fiber is made from reclaimed byproducts of the organic soy industry, which would otherwise be discarded.
While Lee says no textile can be considered perfectly sustainable, he has created the blend to have minimal impact on the environment. The manufacture requires economical use of energy and water.
In addition, Vegetable Cashmere™ is also biodegradable — reducing environmental impact throughout each garment’s entire lifecycle.
“Cashmere is a luxury item,” Lee said in a statement sent to Plant Based News. “Mass-producing cashmere at a cheap price point is terribly unsustainable and detrimental to animals and the earth.
“I have been working on an Earth and animal-friendly alternative for over five years. We are now ready to roll out our first Vegetable Cashmere™ athleisure collection through a Kickstarter campaign.”