Why Inner Mongolia, China?
We proudly produce most of our cashmere sweaters in Inner Mongolia, China. This prominent cashmere factory is renowned for their highly skilled professional workforce, advanced equipment and technology, and commitment to quality and excellence for over 30 years.
The great majority of the world’s highest-quality cashmere comes from Inner Mongolia. Here, the cashmere goats grow fine cashmere fibers to protect them from the extreme cold. The geographic proximity and close relationship that the factory has with the herders ensure that the raw materials are of the highest quality.
On our recent factory visit, we learned so much about the complicated process involved in converting raw fibers into a luxurious cashmere garment. Take a look at how our cashmere sweaters are made through these behind the scenes photos.
After the fibers are collected each spring, they have to be sorted to eliminate any coarse “guard” hairs. This first step of sorting is almost always done by hand and requires years of experience. Here, skilled professionals manually classify raw cashmere by visual assessment according to factory standard based on more than 30 years of experience.
Cashmere scouring is the next step following the first round of manual sorting. During scouring, the fibers go through a few rounds of washing and drying in the scouring machine in order to eliminate dirt and grease. The scouring machine is equipped with tools that loosen up the cashmere fibers so impurities can be more easily removed.
After scouring, the cashmere fibers go through another round of manual sorting. The coarse hairs will be further sorted by machine into different grades. The finer hairs will go to the next step: Dehairing.
Dehairing is the process of removing guard hairs and vegetable matters from the scoured cashmere, utilizing principles of centrifugation and air separation. The tiny metal pins work to loosen up the cashmere fibers, so impurities can be more easily removed. The temperature and humidity are both strictly controlled to ensure optimal result.
The fibers go through 8-12 rounds of dehairing until they meet the quality standard of cashmere in terms of length, thinness, and color. At the end of the process, you can see pure, super soft cashmere coming out of the dehairing machine.
The advanced technology used in color-matching is truly impressive. The software analyzes the color composition and the robotic arm precisely measures and dispenses the mix of dyeing solutions, from over 80 bottles of colors.
We also had the chance to see how a particular heathered-yarn is created. One heathered-yarn could have 6 or 7 different colored fibers mixed together. Here the technician is creating the perfect formula for the greenish, greying charcoal yarn with a touch of camel.
The first step of the fully-automated dye distribution process is weighing dyestuff from the storage silos into the buckets. The factory uses eco-friendly dyestuff that maximizes color brightness, fastness (meaning resistance to dry rubbing and washing), and consistency, and is OEKO-TEX certified (tested to be free from unwanted harmful substances).
The buckets containing the weighed recipes are loaded onto the distribution line, where the dyestuff is first sent to the dissolution tank and then dispensed to these dyeing machines. This automated process ensures precision and consistency, as well as maximum hygiene and safety in the working environment.
The next step is carding, which is the process of loosening up and disentangling lumps of fibers and making them into a thin, even film so that they are ready for spinning. The carding machine is equipped with a series of rollers, which have closely-spaced wire pins, that move at different relative speeds.
Spinning, the process of converting fibers into yarn by drawing out, twisting, and winding the fibers, is the key value-added step in cashmere production. Specific twists are inserted to bind the fibers together to add cohesion and strength.
The factory uses advanced computer-aided knitting machines that allow a variety of gauges and are capable of producing more than 10,000 different stitches and patterns. The knitting machines are designed to adjust stitches to narrow or widen the panel, thus producing shaped knitwear panels with minimal wastage. Yarn feed and tension are closely monitored to yield consistency throughout the fabric, which is essential to shaping and integral garment production.
This machine is working on a complicated intarsia design using more than 30 cones of yarn.
It takes a knitting master as many as 4 days on this computer-assisted machine to complete this cashmere piece featuring such intricate intarsia design. The colored indicators on the computer-assisted machine provide precise guidance to the knitter. It requires a master with over 20 years of experience to knit pieces as intricate as this one.
The garment goes through many rounds of inspection during the production process.
Silk Screen Printing
We always love an opportunity to talk to the production people firsthand. We learned so much from the printing master who has been doing this for almost 20 years.
Long production line for silk screen printing.
The digital printing team created this giant soft semi-sticky pad with garment grading marked on it for the digital machine specifically. The garment can then be precisely laid down and will stay in place for accurate printing. Everyone at the factory is always encouraged to come up ideas that help improve the efficiency and quality of production, and this is a great example.
The software creates a virtual simulation of the printed garment for checking the results before printing begins.
Beautiful cashmere scarf featuring digitally printed geometric patterns done on the inkjet printing machine.
Digital printing color reference.
Testing print colors for client’s final approval.
After printing, the fabrics are washed to remove the excess dye and environmentally friendly solutions. Fabrics are washed in a number of wash cycles at different temperatures to make the print washfast.
The computerized hanging system efficiently delivers batches of garment panels to each workstation for linking, trimming, and inspection.
Great skill and concentration are required during linking, where garment panels and sleeves are being linked together by hand on the linking machine. The machine uses a chain stitch to attach the parts without cutting; each stitch of the chain passes through a knitted stitch and creates a very neat compact seam.
Finished garments are washed and tumble-dried to relax the fabric structure, remove any oil or dirt accumulated during manufacturing, and achieve the desired surfaced finish and wonderful hand feel.
The garment is steam pressed before final inspection.
After a final round of detailed inspection, the garment is ready for delivery.
It is a meticulous process converting the precious raw fibers into a luxurious cashmere garment. We hope you have enjoyed learning about how our cashmere sweaters are made through these behind the scenes factory photos we brought back from Inner Mongolia.