The Most Expensive Fabric In The World Is Also Illegal
By Mikelle Leow, 07 Oct 2019
Image via Shutterstock
Some people don’t bat an eyelid before spilling thousands on cult street products. The equivalent from years back was shahtoosh, a shawl sewn from the hairs of a rare Tibetan antelope.
It is also illegal, so don’t count on finding one online and having it shipped safely to your address.
According to Elle Decor, Shahtoosh helped kick off the pashmina industry. Pashminas, which were made out of the fleece of Tibetan mountain goats were frequently donned by women as a status symbol in the 90s. While original pashminas used to be expensive, you could find one for cheap after the fad died down.
Similar to pashminas, shahtoosh also comes from the Himalayas, though it was made with the hair of the chiru—majestic antelopes indigenous to the Tibetan Plateau in China—instead of fleece.
Sadly, the chiru were named an endangered species in 1975, which is why shahtoosh is banned around the world. As Elle Decor notes, the scarcity of the shawls just made them more coveted, and they were even displayed in magazines like Harper’s Bazaar and retailing at New York’s Madison Avenue as recently as 1998.
Back when shahtoosh was still being audaciously showcased, a scarf could cost as much as US$15,000. However, government agencies across the world eventually clamped down on importations of shahtoosh.
In the US, you can face a five-year sentence in federal prison and get smacked with a six-figure fine for knowingly importing shahtoosh, so don’t let its rarity dazzle you.
This is a Tibetan Antelope. Endangered. 90% have been wiped out over the last 25 years. Their underfur is used to make scarves and shawls called Shahtoosh. $20,000 per scarf. 4 antelopes die to make 1 scarf. The scarves last only 5 years. #Extinction is forever. pic.twitter.com/4hgMl8tgvt— Daniel Schneider (@BiologistDan) April 24, 2019
[via Elle Decor, images via various sources]
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