Since we started Second Cashmere, we’ve had lots of questions about where we get our cashmere from, with most people assuming that we source our collections from charity shops. However, we have a strict ‘no charity shop’ rule, instead sourcing the majority of our cashmere from textile recyclers, with a few kindly gifted pieces thrown in by our friends for good measure.
The decision to work with textile recyclers was a deliberate one. We wanted to find and restore/reinvent cashmere pieces that were right at the end of their journey, to breathe new life into them right before they were either shipped off into the used clothing market, recycled or destroyed.
So what are textile recyclers?
Textile recyclers are businesses that buy textile waste from the likes of charity shops, manage textile bins and do door to door clothing collections. They also work with big brands to deliver textile buy-back schemes (as seen with H&M and M&S). Once the textiles arrive at the sorting depot, they are sorted, packed up and shipped off (mostly overseas) for resale into the aforementioned used clothing market. Cashmere, in most situations, is no different, however due to its value, some textile recyclers pull the cashmere out to be sold forward for recycling into cashmere yarn - a market that is really taking off (hooray!).
While textile recyclers play an important role in the fashion industry, the sheer volume of textile waste they work with is completely overwhelming. We all know by now that the rate in which we consume clothing is not only unsustainable but also quite obscene and when we go to sort through cashmere, we are always stunned about what we find - from brand new garments to designer labels like Tom Ford, Hermes and Burberry! You’d think that because cashmere is so luxurious, shoppers might want to hold on to it a bit longer - but alas not!
Either way, it’s abundantly clear to us every time we sort through the piles of cashmere we do, the UK has a serious clothing addiction and if you’re in the ‘out of sight out of mind’ mindset when it comes to throwing away your clothes, you might in for a bit of a shock when you watch this.
To find out more about textile recyclers, take a look at the Textile Recycling Association here.