“You wouldn’t believe how often I get calls from victims of full-wardrobe moth attacks!”
Cashmere garments are investment pieces, meant to last a lifetime. With recently launched startup Cashmere Circle, Ross Powell seeks to keep these luxury fashion products in circulation for longer.
A customer who calls the company for help receives pre-paid postage bags to package up their damaged garments and send them to Cashmere Circle’s Scottish headquarters. Expert menders will scan every individual piece on a lightbox to detect even the tiniest hole or imperfection – the same techniques used in the UK’s best-known mills – then send the customer a quote for their bespoke invisible repair service.
For smaller collections the company’s website offers a simple pre-paid option, intended to make it easy for consumers to extend the lives of their clothes. If a subtle repair is impossible, the team even works with the customer to choose a style for a custom patch, turning flaws into design features that give each item a personal twist.
“It is amazing how many things you can do to breathe new life into your cashmere. Most people don’t realise but if you act immediately, you can even fix items that have shrunk in the wash,” says Ross. “I’ve learned almost from scratch since I met Belinda Robertson.”
Soon after graduating university Ross started working with Belinda, who has been a mainstay of the cashmere industry for 35 years with her brand Belinda Robertson Cashmere. Her experience has been invaluable as co-founder of Cashmere Circle; she also sits on the company’s advisory board.
Ross says that the business is built on the combination of fresh perspectives from an industry newcomer with Belinda’s wealth of knowledge.
“Belinda has been incredibly supportive – she even jumps in to advise on patching from time to time and there is absolutely nothing she hasn’t seen before,” he explains. “She also understands the importance of sharing our knowledge to ensure cashmere mending remains viable in the UK.”
Retaining the craftsmanship that has made the industry so unique is vital for Cashmere Circle’s future, and Ross is keen to invest in those skills and attract new makers and menders to the sector.
“We’ve come to a point where hand-me-down clothes are considered vintage now, so it’s incredible to pass down cashmere through the generations,” he says.
“I’d like to see the skills required to mend them preserved for the future too.”
By extending the life of luxury garments made with a natural, durable and biodegradable fibre, Ross believes Cashmere Circle has an important role to play in moving to a more sustainable, circular fashion industry.
He also hopes to launch a range of clothing made with recycled cashmere, complementing the accessories available through the brand’s website. In the meantime, the appetite for cashmere garments to become heirlooms offers huge opportunities for upcycling and re-making customer’s old clothes into pieces such as dresses, blankets, accessories, or baby sets.
Ultimately, Cashmere Circle aims to make it a regular ritual for consumers to check their cashmere garments at the start or end of every season, fixing minor damage as it arises to preserve valuable pieces for decades to come.
“Giving your clothes an MOT once a year to keep them in good condition will help to prolong their lives,” Ross adds. “It’s not just about being conscious of what you buy – aftercare has to be a crucial part of sustainable fashion.”