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Can Stella McCartney make sheep the new cashmere?

Virgin cashmere is obtained from the wool of cashmere goats, typically raised in the grasslands of Mongolia. As a fiber, it’s finer and softer and provides approximately three times the amount of insulation than that of sheep’s wool. This makes it an invaluable factor in top quality coats and luxury knits and hard to avoid for designers who make significant profit from the sales from such things, like McCartney.

And Stella, known for being the most environmentally conscious high end designer in the industry, sees a problem with it long-term. Cashmere goats maintained in Mongolia might be causing a desertification where grasslands were once rich. The once ideal environment for cashmere goats is now overpopulated and the voracious grazing and consuming is changing the natural landscape.

In order to tackle the issue the brand has started working in partnership with the Sustainable Fibre Alliance and Wildlife Conservation Society to support grassland protection in Mongolia. And the designer has begun replacing virgin yarn with a type of regenerated fibre that’s called Re.Verso.

Re.Verso™ is a new textile platform made of a group of three top Italian mills, Nuova Fratelli Boretti, Green Line and Lanificio Stelloni, who together produce a fully integrated, textile product, unique in its look and feel, fully traceable throughout its whole supply chain and 100% made in Italy.

The byproduct of post-factory waste impacts the environment 92% less than virgin cashmere. Taken as a raw ingredient, it’s converted into fibre through a mechanical process that allows it to then be spun into yarn which can be used in the same way as the virgin cashmere—knitted or woven into a fully finished garment.

So far, it’s the best practice for eco-responsible cashmere use. Stella is one of the first major fashion houses to employ this new method, and it will be interesting to see how the rest of the market reacts.

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