Cashmere – The Book: Interview with Editor Berit Großwendt
It’s still early in the year, but may we suggest a very special Christmas present for the cashmere lovers in your life, including yourself? Well, on November 2, the first ever and most comprehensive book on the history of this wondrous and luxurious material will be available in a beautifully printed edition from Callwey, including 300 colour photos. The title: „Cashmere“.
Co-written by Allude Creative Director and life-long cashmerista Andrea Karg and editor Berit Grosswendt, the book not only dives deep into the past and present of everything cashmere but also tells the success story of Allude in all of its fascinating and inspiring details. A must-read for cashmere lovers and entrepreneurs alike.
As an exclusive treat for our loyal fans we interviewed co-author Berit Grosswendt, who studied German language and literature, was a department head and head fashion copywriter at InStyle for many years and now works as a freelance writer specializing in designer portraits and fashion/lifestyle topics for magazines like Elle and the shopping platform Stylebop, and as a brand consultant and style coach.
She tells us about what it took to research and write the book, reveals cashmere facts that surprised her and much more. Enjoy! And why not put Cashmere (from Callwey Verlag) on your wish list right now?
Can you still remember your first cashmere piece?
I bought my first real cashmere sweater from my first salary after graduating. It was actually by Allude: a light-gray turtleneck sweater with cable knit, a classic piece that I still like to wear today, because it’s super cuddly and still looks like new after all these years. Back then it was a revelation for me.
This sounds like a cliché, but it’s true: ever since then it has to be cashmere. This gray cashmere sweater was the beginning of my passion for gray cashmere sweaters and cashmere in general. I never leave the house without a light cashmere shawl or scarf. I carry cashmere with me everywhere I go, even when I go on summer holiday.
How did the book project with Andrea Karg start?
Andrea Karg had had the idea for this book for quite some time and finally wanted to act on it. She knew me as a fashion writer and cashmere aficionado, so one thing led to another.
What is the goal of this first German volume on the unique material cashmere and the success story of the brand Allude?
To document the uniqueness of cashmere as a material and its distinctive history. Where does cashmere come from? What were important events in its history? How is the raw material harvested? Where do cashmere goats live? Why is cashmere so precious? In addition to the wonderful images featured in the book, it is also a kind of reference that explains cashmere’s journey from goats to people – in other words, how the delicate undercoat of cashmere goats is transformed into a beautiful sweater.
In addition, it is also about the incredible success story of Allude as an international company and cashmere specialist, and about Andrea Karg’s passion for this valuable material. For Andrea, it was also important to get rid of prejudices, for example, those surrounding the topic of care. Few people know that cashmere, despite its softness, is quite robust and resilient, and best washed in the washing machine – it actually gets more beautiful and softer with each wash.
What were the particular challenges (or stumbling blocks) during research?
Ours is the first book ever that deals with cashmere in this way, so I basically had to start at zero. For example, cashmere goats hardly figure in international statistics, so it was difficult to arrive at well-founded facts and figures.
What findings most surprised you?
That there was a great fashion wave of cashmere scarves in the early nineteenth century, which I had not known before. And that even back then people tried to breed cashmere goats outside of their natural habitat in order to harvest their precious undercoat hair – which has been unsuccessful to this day by the way. It is only under the adverse conditions prevailing in the Central Asian plateau with its severe winters with temperatures of up to minus 50 degrees that true, pure cashmere down is formed.
How did your collaboration with Andrea Karg work – what ideas did she contribute?
Andrea Karg is a constant idea-giver; she’s incredibly creative and artistic and also very warm and open-minded. She’s great at motivating her team to top performance. Her passion and experimentation can be felt at every moment. She also granted me access to all necessary information.
What aspects of cashmere history, and of Allude, would you like to explore further if there is a second volume?
First of all, I would fly to China and look at how and where the goats live. It would also be exciting to explore old trade routes and historical workshops.
And last, will you tell us your favourite piece from the Allude autumn / winter collection 2015/2016?
The layered look of the light-blue kaftan dress with knitted leggings with ribbed hem underneath.