If we have to gift anyone a warm garment, a pashmina shawl is the first thing that comes to mind. Pashmina wool, which comes from Kashmir, is known for its soft texture and luxurious feel. It is mostly used in shawls and stoles in India.
The unprocessed version of pashmina is cashmere, which for a number of years has been a part of the Western fashion vocabulary. From designer Jil Sander in Paris to J. Crew in New York, all the leading fashion houses have used and reinterpreted cashmere to suit the market. Italian fashion house Gucci can be credited for innovation in the field of fabrics and for blending a number of other fabrics to create light-weight cashmere. High-street brands such as Uniqlo have also created gorgeous cardigans and ponchos to make winters luxurious in cashmere. (Click here to read about fedora hats.)
Indian designers such as Rajesh Pratap Singh and Ritu Kumar have also experimented with this warm material.
A model in Ralph Lauren
Models in Ralph Lauren and Gianfranco Ferre
Photo credit: Pinterest
Where did it all begin?
In India, Pashmina is primarily found in Kashmir, and got its name from the Persian word ‘pashm’ meaning wool. Pashm was a collective term that was used for any weaved fibre such as wool, shahtoosh or cotton. In Kashmiri vernacular language, pashmina means ‘soft gold’. (Click here to read about saddle bags)
The origins of Pashmina can be traced back to Nepal and Kashmir. Needless to say, it was the need of the hour that prompted the creation of pashmina. The locals wanted a lightweight and easy cover-up hence they came up with an idea to rear Chanthangi mountain goats for their insulating fur. (Click here to read about bucket hats)
Handmade shawls made in Kashmir find a reference in literature between 3rd century BC and 11th century. However, the pashmina industry took off in the15th century BC during the times of Zayn-ul-Abidin. He is known for bringing the weavers of Central Asia to the forefront of world fashion.
Europeans have been obsessed with pashmina since the times of Napoleon when he for the first time presented pashmina to aristocratic ladies who made it a part of their daily wardrobe. Today, too, the obsession remains: Swiss designer Annick Jordi of label Bahina sources pure pashmina from Kashmir and has it digitally printed with unique designs for sale in international markets. (Click here to read about leg chains)
Photo credit: himalayanhomeopathy.com
Types of Pashmina
After a number of years of innovation, pashmina has been reinterpreted a number of times. ‘Water Pashmina’ is known for its translucent gleam and this is what makes it glamorous. This pashmina is made in threads of two colours with each side of the shawl in different shades.
‘Bamboo Pashmina’ is another variety of lightweight pashmina that is very popular. It is made with 80% bamboo fibre and 20% cashmere wool. This pashmina feels absolutely silky when worn.(Click here to read about Ombre trend)
Another type of pashmina is the ‘Jacquard Pashmina’, which is cheaper and is extremely popular. It is always mixed with another fabric, mostly silk.