Malo has a long tradition in the most fascinating of fashion alchemies: the transformation of the soft undercoat of an Asian goat breed into the noblest and most precious yarn, cashmere. Known in Europe since the late eighteenth century, its origins date back to the far north of India among the icy mountains of Kashmir. Initially worked in large shawls, it was intended exclusively for the Indian elite. British explorers and settlers travelling in those lands fell in love with it, cashmere was thus exported to France and Great Britain, through the Silk Roads.
The women of European high society were the first to appreciate the extraordinary qualities, beauty and absolute comfort that quickly conquered the tastes of the upper bourgeoisie and the western nobility. At the beginning of the nineteenth century cashmere reached the height of its popularity. Synonymous with quality and refinement, the precious yarn has since been exported and appreciated all over the world. Italians and Scots are second to none for quality of spinning and processing. Their art is unparalleled.
In Italy, in Malo’s workshops in Florence and Piacenza, the rigorous attention paid to quality, tradition, experimentation with new techniques and processes is passionately dedicated to the standards of excellence for which the country is known.
The story of a Malo sweater begins in the Gobi Desert, in the area that extends from northern China to Inner Mongolia. An immense desert region, a remote area, the least densely populated on the planet. The majority of the world population of Capra Hircus (cashmere goat), where the cashmere fibre comes from, lives in this region. These are very special animals, able to survive and thrive in the extreme winter climate of the region where temperatures plummet as low as forty degrees below zero during the coldest months of the year. It is precisely the freezing temperature conditions that favour the growth of the precious winter undercoat in these animals. In the spring, when the air warms up, the flocks lose part of their mantle. This is the only period of the year when this precious fibre, that will produce the purest cashmere, can be collected.
The most precious fibres destined for the best quality processing are collected by combing, a manual technique perfected over the centuries by local shepherds. Mantle combing preserves the wellbeing of the animal while simultaneously allowing a better yield of fibres. The cashmere goat has an outer protective layer of coarse fibre, the downy undercoat consisting of the finest and softest fibre called cashmere whose length varies from 2.5 to 9 cm and is located on the belly and under the throat of the animal. Most of this feather fibre is combed by hand during the moulting season. The annual yield per unit varies from a few grams to about 0.5 kg.
After being collected in large skeins, the raw yarn is washed, combed and sorted visually to be classified. It is then subjected to dehairing, a process that separates coarse hair from the white, very light undercoat composed of a thick layer of soft fibres. The result of this process is "pure cashmere" but pure is not an absolute term. The finest cashmere consists only of whiter, shinier, longer and thinner hair, graded according to the length and thickness of the fibres. Malo uses only superior quality A grade raw materials, fibres 14-16.5 microns thick (a human hair has a thickness of about 70 microns) and an average length of 42 mm.
Soft as a cloud
If we really are made of the same substance of which dreams are made, only of lightness, we can dress, of cloud.
The highest quality cashmere is the most resistant and comfortable natural yarn. It’s a very versatile material suitable, for all seasons and much softer, warmer and more isothermal compared to sheep wool. Once tried it is difficult to give it up and those who love it wear it all year round, even in non-traditional seasons. Pure cashmere crafted by Malo is elastic and resilient by nature and has unique properties such as shape hold, durability, density, softness to the touch and heat balanced at body temperature. The capacity of a garment to pass the test of repeated use, always returning to its original shape, is a crucial indicator of quality. A Malo garment improves over time when treated with care.
It is fashion in its most utilitarian form.
Supply chain sustainability
The breeding of cashmere goats still remains a traditional activity that contributes significantly to the livelihood of the rural population of Inner Mongolia. Only complete respect for the animals guarantees the best quality cashmere and Malo only uses certified materials in full respect of nature and local communities. From spinning to dyeing, from the transformation of the yarn into a product, the processes are entirely carried out in the company's factories by specialised workers. The philosophy of the brand, its history and the know-how of its artisan talents are intertwined in every single garment, made with respect for tradition and excellence, created to last over time.
Washing and care
Quality cashmere is not only the finest, softest and warmest yarn in nature, but it is also the most resistant. It can last decades if properly maintained.
- Hand washing is always preferable, the water must never exceed thirty degrees; if too hot the knit will tend to shrink
- After adding a tablespoon of specific mild detergent, soak the garment inside out in water. Do not soak more than ten minutes
- Rinse your cashmere with cold water taking care not to rub it. Avoid wringing it, it may lose its shape
- Lay the garment on top of a clean towel on a flat surface, gently roll up the extremities so as to eliminate excess water
- Put your cashmere in its natural shape on top of another towel or a drying rack. Avoid hanging it, the weave could become distorted
- When the garment is completely dry, fold it up and store it in the wardrobe. The most rigorous experts suggest it’s left to rest at least twenty-four hours before wearing it again