There is a hidden gem found in a landlocked country that has recently become overlooked and overshadowed by its larger and wealthier neighbors. That gem is Mongolia – the land of cashmere. With Mongolian cashmere making up 48% of the world’s supply, Mongolia is rapidly becoming recognized on the world stage.
The Land of Cashmere
Mongolia’s goats are one-of-a-kind. The frigid Siberian climate has caused the goats to develop a thick undercoat that contains the longest and thinnest strands of wool fiber found on Earth. This “King Fiber” is the softest and highest quality cashmere. What makes Mongolia’s goats even more prized is the four different naturally occurring colors that can be found in a single area alone.
The importance of cashmere is most clearly seen in Mongolia’s countryside. With a large proportion of nomadic families, cashmere is a source of income and employment for more than a third of the nation’s population making up 90% of total household income1. This reliance on cashmere is due to Mongolia’s cold and arid climate which doesn’t promote ideal land for farming. Lacking many resources in the countryside, their livestock has become their most valuable asset. For these nomadic families, their very livelihood plays a critical role in maintaining the traditions that have been passed down for centuries. Nowadays, herders are becoming more and more reliant on the cashmere industry. With the loss of this form of employment, the consequences would be unthinkable and devastating to thousands of families.
Aside from financial income, cashmere has played a crucial part in training them and giving them the opportunity to participate in today’s business world. GOBI is one of the rare corporations that are giving herders the choice to eliminate the middle-man who can take a share of their profits. To prevent potential exploitation from large cashmere clothing brands, they are also given the freedom to directly negotiate with buyers allowing them to have a voice and set their price, which is a luxury that most can’t afford in rural areas.
Even city-dwellers have recognized the dedication and labor of their nomadic counterparts. To them it is more than just a piece of luxury clothing; it has become an identity that Mongolians are immensely proud of.
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