Samuel Holdsworth – Director at Cashmere Direct 

Tell us about your business, how long has it been running and what’s the story behind it?
We are a design and manufacturing company specialising in supplying fine cashmere knitwear di-rect from the factory to the customer. Cashmere Direct is a shareholder in Cashmere Holding, the largest exporter of pure cashmere knitwear from Mongolia. We also have knitting facilities in China supplying both cashmere and blended compositions. We have a flexible approach to our customers’ requirements with a design team based in England. By cutting out the middleman we offer the best quality cashmere garments at the most competitive prices delivered directly. Cashmere Direct has a proven track record supplying established brands such as Brodie Cashmere, The House of Bruar, Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and many others

Do you have your own design department, if so, where do you get the inspiration for your designs from?
We have design capability based in both England and Mongolia. We can take your photos, inspirations and designs from inception to CAD and detailed knitted specifications. Design inspiration comes from various sources internationally.

Do you find that brands and retailers are increasingly looking for design input from their manufacturing partners?
It varies on a case by case basis. We deal with large orders from international brands who have their own in-house design team. For other customers having the flexibility to help with design is a huge advantage to them. We also have a historic portfolio of designs whereby we can provide inspiration to our clients which can be used or altered to suit the needs of the customer.

What design trends have you seen coming over the past two or three seasons, and what trends do you expect to see over the coming seasons?
This varies depending on client and market. We see a strong accent on novelty design from many clients which is supported by the neon colours and strong colour palette we have available. (we hold 65 colours in our stock range). We also supply the classic cashmere designs and colours but more and more with a style or contrast colour twist.

Are there any core staples that you are always asked for, irrespective of seasonal trend changes?
We have some great shapes which do work season after season and which our clients love.

Do you have a particular manufacturing niche which sets you apart? How do you set your-selves apart from other manufacturers?
We are a vertical company operating between Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and Outer Mongolia. We only use the long Grade A cashmere. As a result, we supply cashmere which is machine washable.

We collect raw cashmere direct from the herdsman of Mongolia and deliver the finest pure cashmere knitwear to our customers. Being a vertical company ensures that our prices are consistently competitive. We use only European and Japanese processing equipment for our scouring, de-hairing, dyeing, spinning, knitting, linking and finishing.

We continue to invest in state of the art equipment including the latest printing and embroidery machines

Have there been any new technological developments that you have introduced into your manufacturing processes? Do you think there will ever come a time where manufacturing is fully automated or it is the human input that makes the quality differences?
All of our pieces are finished by hand so there will always be what we see as an important and essential human input to ensure our pieces are finished to the highest standard.

Are you seeing any trends or changes in the way production is moving? For example, are you being asked more about ethical practices or are you turning to data driven production?
We are a member of the Sustainable Fibre Alliance

As part of the Sustainable Fibre Alliance we have three shared goals.

  1. Environmental resilience in cashmere producing regions
  2. Improved long term prospects for herding communities that rely on Cashmere markets
  3. Assurance on animal welfare within Cashmere production

We support and practice sustainable grazing on the pesticide free steppes of Mongolia – Organic

We support and nurture the lifestyle of nomadic herdsman and their families who produce cashmere.

How do you adapt to the changes in the marketplace, how do you stay ahead of the curve?
By working hard and being in the market we are able to adapt to changes, coupled with our ability to react to these changes.

Have customers become more demanding of suppliers? What have the core changes been in this relationship?
Customers have always wanted the best. We try to deliver it.

What advice would you give sourcing professionals looking for a manufacturer? What should they look for, and what questions should they be asking?
Have they got service, quality of product and price?

How can manufacturers and sourcing professionals improve their relationships?
By delivering on the key qualities of service, quality of product and price.

What are your minimum and maximum order quantities?
Our minimum order is 20 pieces of a style and colour.

How do you think Brexit will affect your garment manufacturing business?
We expect to a limited extent.