Numerous retail sellers in Nepal do not keep track of their sources. This leads to counterfeit marketing of Pashmina (Cashmere). In this guide, you will find everything that you need to identify real Pashmina in Nepal. From different types of Pashmina to places to buy Pashmina in Nepal, we have got you all covered. Read on.
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What is Pashmina?
In short, Pashmina is a fine variant of Cashmere. It is the fabric derived from the undercoat of domestic goats that live above an elevation of 1,000m, known as Chyangra (Capra Hircus).
The word ‘Pashmina’ came from the ancient Persian word pashm, meaning wool or any wearable yarn obtained from Himalayan domestic goats.
Almost nine times thinner than human hair, the Pashmina wool is used for the making of a variety of products such as scarves and shawls. The fine fabric makes up a perfect gift/souvenir to bring back home from Nepal.
How to identify real/original Pashmina?
Since an original Pashmina fabric undergoes all the major processes by hand such as spinning and looming, they have non-twisted fringes at the end. They are loose and can be identified when compared to other fabrics.
Identifying a real Pashmina requires some level of expertise. Recognizing a special quality depends upon your experience with fabrics. Most people do not pay much attention to such things, so you might have to stroll around the city to get a good grasp of quality Pashmina. Or you could just shop with a female companion who is fond of fabric or Cashmere.
Following are some tips to identify real Pashmina in Nepal:
- Since most of the major Pashmina manufacturing processes are done by hand, you will notice the loose and non-twisted fringes at the end.
- Similarly, the weaving patterns differ too. Look for natural weaving patterns that are handmade.
- Although prices of Pashmina vary from store to store, you might want to remember the size to compare and contrast the cost differences.
- Check out the label. Real Pashminas can not hold the labels with just glue so they need to be stitched/sewn by a thread.
- A Rubbing Test might save you from buying a counterfeit Pashmina. While rubbing, if it generates static electricity then it’s no good. Acrylic or polyester fabrics generate static electricity.
In Kathmandu, you might find it frustrating to learn that the prices of any products (especially clothing) rarely have a fixed price. Most of the sellers are used to bargaining. On top of that, it is common for Nepalese to buy/sell counterfeit goods. Therefore, before heading to a Pashmina outlet, make sure you go prepared.
Types and Sizes of Pashmina
From a 100% pure Pashmina to Silk blended Pashminas, you can find different types of Pashmina in Nepal depending upon the ratio of fabrics that are used in production.
In Nepal, there are three major types of Pashmina based on their composition i.e.
- ‘A’ Grade Pashmina – 100% Pashmina
- ‘B’ Grade Pashmina – 70% Pashmina and 30% Silk Blended
- ‘C’ Grade Pashmina – 50% Pashmina and 50% Silk Blended
The higher the grade, the pricier it gets. Starting from ‘A’ Grade Pashmina made up of 100% Pashmina, ‘B’ Grade Pashmina which is made up of 70% Pashmina and 30% Silk Blended to ‘C’ Grade Pashmina with 50% Pashmina and 50% Silk Blended.
Knowing the Marketplace
Street vendors and small shops around Kathmandu sell shawls and scarfs that are labeled ‘100% Pashmina’. However, it is extremely rare to find an authentic and ‘A’ grade Pashmina on the streets.
If a vendor tries to convince you to a degree only imaginable, then s/he might have been in disbelief that they are selling real Pashminas. So, avoid arguments and move on. Yep, not all sellers know the difference between a real and a counterfeit Pashmina in Nepal. Therefore, this is one place where we would advise you to approach with a little bit of skepticism.
For high-quality Pashminas, I’d suggest you shop in an area that is frequently visited by tourists. Thamel is the tourist hub of Kathmandu. So, you might want to start there. Then slowly proceed to Durbar Marg/Durbar Square.
If there’s one thing that I have learned from the markets of Kathmandu, it’s that the labels do not always tell the truth. This is due to the prevalence of buying/selling and counterfeits. There is no such thing as persecution for commercial fraud in Nepal, yet.
Store owners sell knock-offs of high-end brands such as The North Face, Nike, Marmot, and Mountain Hardwear openly. Salesmen often agree to the fact that these products are not genuine and are low-end copies. So, never depend completely on a label that says ‘100% Pashmina’. They might be aspirational but not necessarily authentic.
About the pricing of Pashmina
Prices of Pashmina might differ from place to place. But usually, most tourists are more than happy to pay extra for a genuine quality product. The Fixed Price tradition is yet to be prominent in Nepal. So, even the stores that claim their products to be fixed priced will usually give a 5%-10% discount just so you don’t leave empty-handed.
Keep in mind though, the price tags for tourists are much higher than for the locals. This is just something you are going to have to get used to. Not only for the Pashmina, I meant that for every other product or service.
In the saturated market of Nepal, look for dedicated Silk or Pashmina outlets that sell no other products. They usually understand the demographics and know-how to identify a real Pashmina over a fake one. Most owners are kind enough to take their time and explain the differences. Thus, look for such outlets if possible.
Tips to buy Pashmina in Nepal:
- Don’t hesitate to bargain. Now, of course, there’s a limit to everything but it is completely fine to bargain in Nepal. Matter of fact, it is a friendly back and forth communication to find a rate that fits both the seller and the buyer. You will get a chance to connect and learn a lot from the perspective of a seller as they have their shortcomings as well.
- Don’t get into a crowded store. If you get into the cluster of other shoppers, chances are you will not get enough attention from the seller for you to understand all the details.
- Don’t waste your time on places other than a tourist area. As I mentioned earlier, locals in Nepal do not care much whether a product is counterfeit or not. Simply because they can’t afford it even if a genuine product is brought in the store.
- Ask where they are from. No, seriously. This builds up a deeper connection. Nepalese shopkeepers are friendly and truly enjoy a quick chat to get to know their customers. So, ask questions that matter to them, and it is simply not possible to rip off something that you had a good time with. This one’s my personal favorite.
Lastly, if you are not able to visit Nepal due to the ongoing situation, you can order your favorite Pashmina via an online store. However, there aren’t many online stores that deliver handicrafts from Nepal.
Yuna Handicrafts is one of the trusted websites to order 100% handmade and genuine handicrafts from local artisans. Purchasing a Pashmina product online saves you time and keeps you from counterfeit products. Explore our delicately crafted Pashmina products