A few history threads…
Pashm was used in the creation of handmade shawls in the Himalayas. The woollen shawls made in Kashmir find written mention in Afghan texts between 3rd century BC and the 11th century AD. However, the founder of the cashmere wool industry is traditionally held to be the 15th century ruler of Kashmir, Zayn-ul.
Searching the World
Searching the world for genuine products has always been at the heart of what we do a Zocalo, so weeding through the gardens of imitations was a challenge. A craze for pashminas has created high demand for pashminas, so demand exceeds supply. This demand has resulted in some dubiously marketed product.
The Ring and Lighter Test
About a decade ago, Zocalo was introduced to the finest quality pashminas in India as an old trader passed the best shawls through a wedding ring. If the shawl didn’t go through the ring it wasn’t fine enough. He also took a lighter and held it near the fibre ends showing the natural fibres would burn and glow whereas the synthetic acetate copies would melt. (This is a hazardous test and not recommended for home use!)
Warmth and Feel: The Ultimate Test
Pashmina and Cashmere are both derived from the inner coat of mountain goats. One distinct difference between Pashmina and Cashmere is the fiber diameter. Pashmina fibers are finer and thinner than cashmere fiber, therefore, it is ideal for making light weight apparel like fine scarves. Often, “pashminas” are actually a blend of cashmere and silk because this is stronger and shinier than 100% pashmina. Further, textile labels often do not note “pashmina” on the fibre content, because it is not recognized as a fibre under the Wool Act. Some of these natural fibre blends produce the best scarves.
Be Wary of Viscose Blends
However, one should be wary of the word “pashmina” as it is used liberally. Many scarves made from natural or synthetic fiber are sold as pashmina, which creates a lot of confusion in the marketplace. Some shawls marketed as pashmina shawls contain wool, while other companies market the man-made fabric viscose as “pashmina” with marketing statements such as “authentic viscose pashmina”.
We have proudly selected the genuine scarves for the Zocalo collection from the finest items encountered in our travels. Having visited Katmandu, Kashmir and Jaipur we are confident that our current selections represents the best combination of quality, value and experienced satisfaction. Touch. Feel. Enjoy! $20.