logo

PACK ON

Nepal

Pashmina, a favourite essential

LinkedIn

The superfine cashmere shawl is a lifesaver in every moment of your travel: to keep you warm under the plane's freezing air conditioning, to wipe your eyes while watching a heart-wrenching movie, to hide from a former date you accidently bumped into at the gate. Not to mention, the touch of class that a beautiful cashmere throw adds to the basic little black dress you always pack.

Never out of season, always in our bag, the word ‘Pashmina’ comes from the Persian term ‘pashm’ (meaning wool), and the real Pashmina wool comes from the Changthangi goats of the Himalayas. The goats, which live in a cold environment, developed a protective skin and wool for survival.

Pashmina, a favourite essential

The history of the pashmina 

1. The cashmere wool industry dates back to pre 14th-century Persia

Only small communities in Nepal and across Persia crafted the woollen scarves until the late 14th-century when the poet and scholar Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani introduced Himalayan goats’ wool to Kashmir, where the word ‘cashmere’ comes from. Their wool is extra thick to insulate them from the cold weather in the mountains.

Hamadani helped develop a weaving industry in Kashmir. The ruler of Kashmir, Zain-ul-Abidin, also had an important role to play: he introduced weavers with more advanced techniques from Turkestan.

2. Napoleon Bonaparte’s 18th-century campaign in Egypt brought pashminas to Paris

The scarves reached Western Europe following the 1799-1802 French campaign in Egypt. The general-in-chief sent one back to Paris, and its popularity put plans in motion for the French fashion industry.

Bonaparte’s wife, the Empress Josephine, began wearing pashmina-style shoulder shawls, sealing their reputation as the height of fashion amongst the upper class. In particular, they would wear scarves with elaborate patterns for significant political and religious events.

Pashmina, a favourite essential

3. Scotland, France and Italy were the main European cashmere manufacturers in the 19th century

In Scotland in 1830, a £300 reward was offered to the first person able to spin cashmere using the same system as the French. Captain Charles Stuart Cochrane received the prize in 1833.

He collected the information he needed on a visit to Paris in 1831. His discovery triggered the beginning of a large-scale Scottish cashmere industry after he received a patent for the process and then sold it to a manufacturing company.

4. The first commercial cashmere dehairing machine was invented in 1890

This greatly simplified the production process. These machines remove guard hairs from the material, which would make it feel too coarse and not soft enough.

In addition, the invention of the mechanised Jacquard loom rapidly accelerated the manufacturing timeline. It allowed for mass production of elegant patterns and helped increase the supply of cashmere pashminas.

Pashmina, a favourite essential

5. The American Industrial Revolution secured cashmere’s global popularity

Once cashmere reached North America, its world tour was complete. Uxbridge, Massachusetts, one of the first textile centres in the Blackstone Valley, became known for its production of cashmere wool.

By the mid 20th-century, cashmere manufacturing had become a large-scale business.

Pashmina, a favourite essential
Pashmina, a favourite essential

MORE INSPIRATION

STAY ITALY

STAY ITALY

A helping hand
DO SUDAN

DO SUDAN

Conical curiosities
EAT ITALY

EAT ITALY

Paradise, etched in stone
EAT PORTUGAL

EAT PORTUGAL

Delectable dining through the Douro
STAY NORWAY

STAY NORWAY

A sprawling spectacle
STAY KENYA

STAY KENYA

Where the wild things really are
DRINK CYPRUS

DRINK CYPRUS

Arcadian nostalgia
DO BRAZIL

DO BRAZIL

An Amazonian experience unlike any other
EAT ROME

EAT ROME

All aboard: a moving historical experience
DO BARCELONA

DO BARCELONA

Spanish pampering a-la-carte
PACK NEPAL

PACK NEPAL

Pashmina, a favourite essential
SHOP AUSTRALIA

SHOP AUSTRALIA

Poetry to touch
STAY SWITZERLAND

STAY SWITZERLAND

Infinite Stars Hotel, conceptualism under the sky
DRINK RIO DE JANEIRO

DRINK RIO DE JANEIRO

Yoo2. Tapas and Cocktail on Botafogo Shoreline
EAT AROUND THE WORLD

EAT AROUND THE WORLD

The Gourmand Bucket List
DO IRELAND

DO IRELAND

The land before time
SHOP PORTO

SHOP PORTO

Bridging the gap between interior and exterior
DO TOKYO

DO TOKYO

The fine art of flower arranging
DRINK GREYERZ

DRINK GREYERZ

Otherworldly aperitifs

    Would you like to receive our Wonder travel tales, latest news and destination guides?