In the industry the term "precious" fibers is used to describe cashmere, alpaca, vicuna among others. They are precious indeed both in terms of the limited supply and the lives their produce supports. Today there was an article in the NY Times describing the downturn in demand for cashmere in Mongolia. We in the West are not surprised that demand for luxury goods has waned this year. Manufacturers have re-designed garments to use less of the luxury fiber either in style or size, blending luxury yarns with more affordable fibers and reducing the size range for high value garments. Shepherds and farmers around the world will feel this shift. In addition to a lessening demand for sweaters for the fall season, the Mongolian government has put strong limitations on goatherders for environmental reasons. Evidently the hungry goats have eaten the plains dry, causing major air quality issues in northern China. Herders in Peru are on a strict regimen to protect the endangered vicuna. Australian sheep farmers are carefully monitoring their markets and teaming with production facilities to hone their product-merino wool — to today's demands for quality, value and sustainability.
On the one hand we need to participate in the marketplace that provides livelihoods for farmers and mill workers world-wide, but at the same time we need to let go of demands for goods that are depleting our resources in favor of innovative alternatives. Here at SBDF, we are mindful of this balance. Although heavily entrenched in the global fashion marketplace, we attempt to offer a wide array of choices for our customers that includes "green" fabrics as well as those that are milled responsibly in the fashion capitals of the world.
In reality all our natural fibers are "precious," and it behooves us to be ever vigilant in our balance between savoring the glory of fine fabrics and supporting the on-going availability of our resources — always mindful of the lives our decisions impact.