The cashmere certification programme will begin with 2,000 farmers in the region of Inner Mongolia in northern China

The cashmere certification programme will begin with 2,000 farmers in the region of Inner Mongolia in northern China

Non-profit Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) has launched what it says is the first standard for sustainable cashmere, meeting increased consumer demand for sustainability, quality, and transparency.

The Good Cashmere Standard lays the groundwork for improving the welfare of cashmere goats while incorporating social and environmental standards in cashmere production. Its first focus will be Inner Mongolia where consumers, producers, and businesses will receive an independent quality seal for sustainably produced cashmere.

The Standard covers both the welfare of animals, the protection of nature, and the working conditions of farmers and farm workers. It was developed in collaboration with animal-rights specialists and independent cashmere-production experts.

Farmers and buying stations for cashmere wool in Inner Mongolia are certified only if proven to be in compliance with the standard's criteria. The cashmere farmers first complete a comprehensive series of questions on their livestock-keeping practices. Based on these results, independent third parties visit their farms to verify the proper implementation of the standard. The programme will begin with 2,000 farmers in the region of Inner Mongolia in northern China, where cashmere goats are kept by settled farmers rather than roaming broad pastures with nomadic herders.

"The Good Cashmere Standard provides a standard for the important resource cashmere," says Tina Stridde, managing director of AbTF. "It meets increased consumer demand for sustainability, quality, and transparency. Many consumers want to be certain that the textiles they purchase were produced in accordance with social and environmental standards and that no animals were harmed in the process.

"The demand for The Good Cashmere Standard is great. This sends an important signal to the entire textile and fashion sector."

A key stakeholder for The Good Cashmere Standard is the Erdos Cashmere Group, one of the largest producers of cashmere and based in Inner Mongolia. Erdos has been a partner and supporter of the new standard from the beginning and will offer and process certified cashmere wool already this year - in addition to four other producers.

On the demand side Peter Hahn, one of Germany's leading cashmere retailers, has been the first retail partner of The Good Cashmere Standard.

Patrizia Strupp, head of sustainability at Peter Hahn, says: "We are thrilled to be partnering with this new standard from the beginning. It meets our high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection and creates greater security for our customers and even more confidence in our company. With The Good Cashmere Standard, we can offer them products made of cashmere wool that meets the strict criteria of the standard for animal welfare and environmental protection."

Peter Hahn has been joined by additional fashion brands including Bestseller, H&M Group, J Crew, Madewell, and Lacoste.

Recently blockchain technology has been used to help track Mongolian cashmere from origin (shearing at herder household) to destination (a processing facility in Ulaanbaatar) in a bid to increase transparency and create a more sustainable supply chain. The effort is part of the United Nations Development Programme's Sustainable Cashmere Project, and uses Convergence.tech's Ethereum blockchain solution, Backbone.