That was the question I asked when I was first introduced to pure cashmere at the King Deer Cashmere factory in Baotou, Inner Mongolia in 2008.
I was on an exotic vacation to explore “where buses can’t go”! I had taken an overnight train from Beijing to Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, to be met by a small van which then drove me to the rolling hills and lush green grass of Huitengxile where I “checked in” to my yurt.
The entire trip into Inner Mongolia had been planned for about a year, and was intended for the sole purpose of riding horses in the grasslands, much like Genghis Khan had centuries before! And to enjoy the local cuisine, including the milk tea, made with mare’s milk. I did all that and had an amazing time! In fact, I could write a story about those adventures!
After a few days this exploration came to its end and I made my way back to a more modern world, the city of Baotou. It was here that a friend first shared with me that Inner Mongolia produced the best cashmere in the world. Seeing that I was unsure of his claim, an explanation followed.
Inner Mongolia is home to indigenous cashmere goats technically known as Capra circus laniger. These goats live in the harsh, cold, dry mountainous areas where in the winter, temperatures can drop to 50 degrees celsius or below. To survive, these goats grow an undercoat of soft hair, which is quality cashmere fibre.