Cashmere is for the aged and the affluent! You may often hear this from those under the age of 35, nowadays. It has become so prevalent that cashmere brands are changing their narrative to target younger consumers now more than ever.
Cashmere as a Status Symbol
Since the age of the Roman Empire, the soft luxurious fiber has always been a favorite of the wealthy and nobility. The organic lightweight material arrived by way of ancient trade routes from Asia to Europe and it wasn’t long before the rich and powerful became frequent buyers. Unfortunately, when the empire collapsed, any written records of cashmere usage unexpectedly vanished. It wasn’t until centuries later when Napoleon Bonaparte brought back a cashmere shawl from Egypt for his wife, Josephine, did it regain its popularity once again. Josephine, the most famous fashion trend setter in France at the time, was one of the first to amass a large collection of cashmere shawls and expressed her praise:
“[...] I like them for they are extraordinary and warm”.
Other noble ladies soon joined Empress Josephine and set forth a trend that has persisted through all these years.
People still view cashmere as knitwear for the affluent. However, it now has the added stigma of being bulky and old-fashioned with outdated designs - the so-called “grandpa” sweaters. A Mongolian fashion teacher featured in The New Yorker expressed a similar view. She believes cashmere to be an unaesthetic fabric, but a practical one that keeps the wearer warm and appearing older than they are, thus making it most suitable for someone over forty years of age.
Catching wind of this new perception of cashmere, companies in the last decade have decided that it was time to start engaging younger age groups. One approach cashmere brands took to tackle this dilemma was to alter their designs to trendier pieces in order to please the fashionable young crowd. Even GOBI had decided to be all-inclusive of ages by establishing brands geared towards children and young adults named KID GOYO and GOYO, respectively.
Not only are the designs more youthful and brighter in color, but GOBI offers one of the more affordable cashmere in the world. A fair price combined with fashion-forward styles are the best way to go when attracting this trendy age market. This is not to say that GOBI has strayed from classic collections for those who do love the ‘older’ designs.
In today’s fast-paced market with tight competition and a younger consumer demographic, companies that have had loyal older clientele like cashmere brands should adapt and cater towards the younger generation to stay ahead of the game and shine a more positive light on cashmere.
E. Papot. (2011). Fashion Accessory: The Shawl. The Fondation Napoleon. Retrieved from https://www.napoleon.org/en/magazine/napoleonic-pleasures/fashion-accessory-the-shawl/
Fabretti, I. C. (2007). The Cashmere Shawls of Empress Josephine. Retrieved from https://historiquecouture.wordpress.com/2007/04/07/the-cashmere-shawls-of-empress-josephine/
Mead, R. 1999. The Crisis in Cashmere. The New Yorker. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1999/02/01/the-crisis-in-cashmere