Cashmere has quickly grown in popularity but it has always been an in-demand fibre because of its durability and, of course, its incredible softness. The cashmere used in cashmere sweaters can not be found on any goat; it actually needs to be sourced from cashmere goats. Cashmere wool is one of the best sustainable fibres because it doesn’t require any harm to the goats it's sourced from and can actually last decades if cared for properly.
Is Cashmere sustainable?
The cashmere wool itself that we use in our clothing is mostly sourced from countries such as Mongolia, Australia, New Zealand, Iran, and Afghanistan. Over recent decades, countries such as the U.S. and Canada have also started breeding cashmere-producing goats. These goats are specifically bred for their cashmere fibres. Because goats only produce a few ounces of cashmere a year, there has been a growth in counterfeit cashmere sweaters.
The growth in demand for cashmere has encouraged the expansive breeding of cashmere goats, which has begun to pose a threat to the environment. These goats, as you can expect, like to eat and can quickly turn the greenest fields into desserts. it takes specific farming skills to keep land lush and fertile, and properly caring for their goats needs to be a top priority for these farmers. Now that consumers demand more sustainable products and want to know the story behind the items they purchase, more brands are choosing to be transparent about how they source and manufacture their cashmere.
Here is a list of the best sustainable Canadian cashmere sweaters that you’re going to want to buy (Trust me, I have a few open carts as we speak):
The story behind this brand is why I have put it first. Owner, Christine Peters, of Lemonwood, based in Oakville, Ontario, named her store after a street she lived on in Toronto where she discovered her dream to bring sustainably sourced clothes and accessories to Canadians. Every piece of clothing the store sells is found from carefully chosen factories, run by women, and are socially responsible with the products they create.
What is particularly unique about Lemonwood is its cashmere pieces that break the boundaries that cashmere should only be made into scarves and sweaters. You’ll find face masks, skirts, gloves, leggings (yes, leggings!), and my personal favourite the cashmere cardigan with rainbow buttons.
Also, not quite a sweater but we think it counts, the Cashmere Kimono Wrap is another must-have. While coming in black and french blue colour, I prefer the classic cream. Let it fall over your shoulders and keep you warm while you spend some time at home, wear it travelling, or pair it with your favourite cashmere sweater underneath. Kimonos are versatile because they can be worked into any outfit no matter the occasion, and when they’re made sustainably, even better!
The Cashmere Shop
The owners of the Cashmere Shop, based in Toronto, Ontario, are proud of the ethically sourced cashmere they sell. Imported from Mongolia (where 90% of the world’s cashmere comes from), their team has their own quality controller based in Mongolia who ensures that every piece of wool is sustainably sourced without sacrificing on quality.
Although I almost went for a comfy-looking cashmere vest, our favourite cashmere sweater for women from The Cashmere Shop has to be the Cashmere Boyfriend V-Neck With Striped Back. It’s oversized and cozy with the softness you expect from 100% cashmere. Wear it over your favourite jeans, leggings, or around the house with nothing underneath.
Another favourite, especially for those who love a little vibrancy in their life, is the watermelon-coloured cashmere Blair Fisherman Cardigan. This cashmere cardigan is absolutely gorgeous and I can’t seem to want to leave without putting it in my cart. It has a fisherman knit, and a plunging neckline, and is fit to go with any outfit in any setting – not just at the lake.
If I can pull myself away from their shop, I will move on to the next sweater on our list.
Black Goat Cashmere
A more recognizable brand when it comes to sustainably sourced cashmere in Canada, and for good reason. With locations in Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto, and Calgary, Black Goat Cashmere has quickly spread in popularity. These pieces are all perfect for almost any occasion. The blend of earthy colours with other brighter options makes each piece unique. Choose from cashmere sweaters, cashmere cardigans, and more.
Our favourite cashmere sweater from Black Goat Cashmere is the Funnel Neck Pullover. Not quite as tight as a traditional cashmere turtleneck, this sweater is ribbed, comes in multiple colours, and is great for a cool night at the cottage or cabin.
For men, the Cashmere Polo Neck looks sleek and professional yet can be worn on a cozy day around the house. These black cashmere sweaters are cozy for anyone, regardless of gender. We love exactly what Black Goat Cashmere has to say “ideal for work and play. Choose from a variety of styles and find your perfect fit. Eight times warmer, softer and lighter than wool, cashmere regulates your body temperature so you're always just right. Using only the highest quality raw cashmere fibres, every piece is meant to be travelled in, enjoyed and worn year after year.”
Carriage Trade/Repeat Cashmere
Not specifically made in Canada, Repeat cashmere is one of Europe’s leading ethically sourced cashmere brands. Carriage Trade, a Toronto-based business, brings Repeat to Canada with many available options to choose from. According to Repeat, they are highly conscious of the social and ethical aspects of business and support animal protection in the making of their cashmere products.
The Repeat Organic Open Cashmere Cardigan With Shawl Neck can be worn in any season for any event and comes in warm colours just begging to be worn. It’s lightweight and open in the front so it provides both an air of casual comfort and elegance.
The Repeat Cashmere Cozy Cream Sweater should also be a staple in your wardrobe all year round. Cream-coloured cashmere goes perfect in any setting. It’s cozy, comfortable and true to size. Because it’s not one size as some other cashmere sweaters, you can find the size that fits your look. Go for oversized sweaters if you want to pair them with leggings, or wear them more fitted with a pair of jeans or slacks.
What to Look for in a Sustainable Cashmere Sweater
If you’re searching for a sustainable cashmere sweater in Canada, there are multiple options with a quick Google search. Remember, if you’re seeking items made directly in Canada, check the websites you visit as many only provide a Canadian version of a worldwide brand. If your goal is to support local Canadian brands, buying internationally is only putting your money into another country’s economy and removing it from ours.
When you’re considering buying a cashmere sweater, assess the following elements:
- Check the label to ensure that the sweater is from a reputable brand. If you’re seeking 100% cashmere, the label will say so. Cashmere “blends” only contain cashmere as a percentage mixed with other fibres (it doesn’t need to be much cashmere for a brand to call it a “cashmere blend”)
- Take care of your sweater the way the label directs. Don’t take any shortcuts or you will run the risk of ruining your sweater. If it says lay flat to dry, lay flat to dry. Don’t hang it.
- If you're looking to be extra warm, 2-ply cashmere is the way to go. Otherwise, regular cashmere is finer and will keep you warm while still being good for the summer weather.
- Be ready to never want to take your sweater off. A pure cashmere sweater is so soft that it will feel like a second skin – and you won’t want to take it off. Go ahead, sleep in it, but make sure you’re taking proper care of it so it lasts for generations!
Cashmere sweaters are definitely worth the small investment into your wardrobe. Although slightly more in cost than a regular knit sweater, your cashmere will last even decades if cared for properly (always fold it in a drawer and NEVER put it in the washing machine). Because cashmere is so rare and so luxurious it will never go out of style, so whether you put it on today or your granddaughter finds it years from now, it will still be one of the best pieces in your closet.
Have we persuaded you into wanting to take a look at other Canadian-made local businesses that focus on sustainable products? Take a browse of our apparel for sale now.