Meet the Masham fashion pioneers changing the face of luxury second hand cashmere

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An independent fashion retailer is on a mission to change how we feel about second hand clothing, and lead the change on a wasteful industry by reconditioning a timeless classic.

Nearly New Cashmere Co, in Masham, has rescued and repaired thousands of cashmere items since it began in 2015, proving that luxury really can be sustainable.

Founder Alison Orr, built her brand from home in what became a one of a kind boutique, a luxury bargain house resetting the status quo on used clothing.

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Fuelled by a frustration with fast-fashion, she discovered that even a durable, high-quality material like cashmere could be written off as waste.

Pictured: Founder, Alison Orr, at Newly New Cashmere.Pictured: Founder, Alison Orr, at Newly New Cashmere.
Pictured: Founder, Alison Orr, at Newly New Cashmere.

After years as a second hand seller on ebay’s marketplace, she focused her attention on sourcing discarded 100% cashmere items.

In an industry often accused of unethical mass-production, independent retailers like Nearly New Cashmere are paving the way when meeting rising environmental standards.

The company received recognition from national publications including The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times, and The Yorkshire Post, and also featured in an ad campaign with Skoda.

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Mrs Orr said: “What people most say about it is that they can’t believe it's second hand.

Newly New Cashmere's located in Masham and have recently expanded to a new shop front in the market towns centre.Newly New Cashmere's located in Masham and have recently expanded to a new shop front in the market towns centre.
Newly New Cashmere's located in Masham and have recently expanded to a new shop front in the market towns centre.

“We’re open about it being second hand but it's different to a charity shop in that it's reconditioned..

“It's a real luxury item, and the reason why the concept of the business works.

“Most cashmere jumpers are over £100 pounds, pricing most people out.

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“I’ve never been shy of shopping second hand long before it became cool.

“I started a shop on ebay when it first became a thing.

“I began to formulate a plan to build a business where everything is one of a kind and realised cashmere retained value, and quality.

“One of the things that stopped me buying online was they don’t always fit.

“I wanted to make all that easier, like buying from John Lewis.

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“Which is why I stuck to one thing, doing the hard work for the shopper.

Most retailers rush to replicate catwalk fashions to keep up with demand, whilst Mrs Orr is determined to source timeless classics appealing to fashion-conscious consumers.

Mrs Orr Said: “We don't place orders with factories as we want to be part of the solution for over production and not to perpetuate it.

“We’re about sweeping up things that need rewearing, without compromising on quality.

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Nearly New Cashmere and Co offer a repair service, keen to make sure nothing goes to waste, items unable to be restored get repurposed or used to patch up damaged garments.

Mrs Orr said: “It's a generational thing.

“I think we’ve a lot to learn from our young people who are busy selling old stuff on Vinted, and buying from others.

“Hats off to them!

“It's my generation who haven’t been onboard with it historically.

Despite popular belief, cashmere is easy to care for, machine washable, biodegradable, and a renewable resource - planet friendly bonus points for the luxury material.

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Mrs Orr said: “High fashion magazines need to do more.

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“Although you hear they’re backing the sustainable movement they need to put their money where their mouth is.

“Buy Less, Choose Well, Make it Last” - a phrase first coined by designer Vivienne Westwood, a torch Alison Orr is carrying into the world of used fashion where luxury garments last.