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Most expensive fabric on Earth is totally illegal to own
Featured Image Credit: US Fish and Wildlife Service

Most expensive fabric on Earth is totally illegal to own

Its rarity and supersoft texture make it extremely desirable but owning one could result in a prison sentence

There's a fabric out there that's so expensive it puts cashmere and silk to shame. But, if you buy, sell or own it, you're actually a criminal.

Yep, clothes made out of this particular material can not only leave you seriously out of pocket, they can also land you with a six-figure fine and five years in prison in the US.

A source told Elle Decor: "It’s the forbidden fruit of fabrics. It weighs nothing and vicuña [another luxury fabric made from South American vicuña camelids] is like sandpaper by comparison."

A confiscated shawl made of shahtoosh.
US Fish and Wildlife Service

We're talking about shahtoosh, which is made from the hair of the chiru, an endangered Tibetan antelope, and is the object of great desire due to its rarity and supersoft texture.

Its allure started in the 1990s with the rise of pashminas, brightly colored cashmere shawls, made from the fleece of Tibetan mountain goats, that grazed the shoulders of every well-dressed woman.

Their exotic name and origins drew people to the pashmina, but the word was soon used to describe anything that kept your neck warm.

By the time the trend hit its peak, a 'pashmina' could be bought at dirt cheap prices from street vendors and in Hare Krishna temple gift shops.

Shahtoosh is made from the hair of the chiru, an endangered Tibetan antelope.
Wikimedia Commons

Like real pashmina, shahtoosh is also from the Himalayas, but instead of goat hair, it is made from the underfur of the chiru, a species of antelope indigenous to Tibet.

Unfortunately, in order to get the wool, the chiru must be killed. This led to the animal being classified as endangered back in the 1970s and the killing of them made illegal

Of course, this only made shahtoosh rarer and more desirable, with poachers selling the shawls for as much as $15,000.

And they were boldly presented for sale in high-end stores and advertised in magazines as late as 1998.

Then, governments around the world began cracking down its importation.

The fabric is made from the underfur of an endangered mountain goat.
iStock / Getty Images Plus

It's now illegal to own shahtoosh and knowingly bringing the fabric into the US.

In 2001, it was reported that a group of high-profile women, including supermodel Christie Brinkley had been issued subpoenas for owning shahtoosh.

At the time, socialite Denise Hale told Vanity Fair: “Darling, everyone I know has one or two. Or three or four or five. This is the first time I hear it’s illegal.”

Aside from the shahtoosh's rarity, its superfine threads and soft texture make it extremely desirable.

Elle Decor's source said: “It feels like it’s been woven from the hair of an angel fallen from heaven.”

But, unless you have $15,000 to spare and are willing to get a criminal record, heaven will just have to wait.

Topics: News, Fashion, World News