The Dictionary of Fashion History (2010) defines the term pashmina as a lightweight cashmere scarf. While the Persian word pashm refers to wool in a broader sense, in the region of Kashmir, the fibre comes specifically from the underbelly of the Changthangi goat. In the UK, the woven fabric as well as shawls made from it were called pashmina in the mid-19th century. The modern pashmina may be sourced from other breeds of cashmere goats outside of the Himalayas. A cashmere/silk blend is permissible, but I wouldn’t included cotton and viscose products under this definition.
I purchased my grey pashmina from The Portobello Road Cashmere Shop in 2013. I’d set out for Portobello Road that autumn day with the intention to window shop at the market, but the cashmere scarves on display at the shop’s outdoor stall caught my attention. After surveying the selection, I still hadn’t found the one. But then, I was directed inside the brick and mortar location at number 166, and I found the pashmina that was meant for me there.
The light grey style bears the tag of the shop’s private label Eldon Cashmere, which, along with the shop itself, was established in 1997. Although the brand specializes in Scottish cashmere, my pashmina was hand made in Nepal. It’s 70% cashmere / 30% silk, lightweight, voluminous, and warm. I wore it almost every day when I lived in London. Now that I’m based stateside now, I don’t fly without it. When it comes to the cost per wear formula, I am undoubtedly the victor, especially since I wash it in a bucket of cold water and Woolite instead of paying for dry cleaning.
Eldon Cashmere pashmina; J.Crew 2011 icon trench