The Politics of Cashmere


Found Item: Cashmere v-neck sweater in one of two bags of discarded clothes

Where: In an alley near the Fullerton, Halsted and Lincoln intersection

This sweater is made of old school cashmere, before the boon of the cheap Cosco cardigan and TJMaxx cable stitch pullovers. A few years ago, these flooded the U.S. markets for less than $50 but took their toll on at least three elements that couldn’t keep up with demand: the grasslands, goats and air quality in China. I bought one, a black cashmere tee under Marshall Field’s house label, Gene Myer, but then learned that in the full cycle of cashmere production, quality and cheap aren’t compatible. Peter Fairley on the Green pages of explains it in this slide show. From the retail display to the cargo ships running on low-grade/high polluting bunker fuel to the ravaged steppes where the Cashmere goat used to thrive, the numbers don’t add up. LA writer Joseph Mael can give you the short, personal take of when his parents gave him a cheap cashmere for Christmas.

Back to the found sweater—I found it thicker than the Cosco models and with more body, it still holds its shape but has a few holes on both front and back. It’s possible somebody from DePaul set the bags out by the dumpster, not wanting to throw out the accompanying pair of Old Navy pajama bottoms, Gap jeans and assorted tees per se, but short on commitment to find the nearest Green Movement box.

The Makover: How to extend the life of the holey cashmere sweater, find an ongoing use for this collaboration between man and goat?  I have a plan, will dig up some supplies and post the reinvention when complete, Friday at the latest.


One Response

  1. Follow up on my Cheap Cashmere Sweater (CCS) story: After a long, toasty summer this year, I put on my CCS after the first signs of cold weather and found two gigantic holes gnawed through the chest.

    While I will miss it’s warmth, I will not miss that CCS for all it stands for… or will I??

    I will look for your re-invention to see if you can help me with my now holy sweater.

    Thanks for the link! (You’ll be added to my site as well)

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