This is the story of a journey that started on the Tibetan plateau with its nomadic people and landed in Italy, at the foot of the Alps, where traditional spinning meets style. It’s the story of mountain peoples united in their ability to appreciate the beauty and the strength of a natural fiber that is among the most precious and most rare in the world.
We are on the Tibetan Plateau, well over 4,000 meters.
Here, yaks and cashmere goats are raised in the semi-wild by nomadic people, according to thousand-year-old tradition and in harmony with the delicate ecosystem of the high altitude grasslands.
We have lived with the nomadic herders and with them we have created a cooperative. Together we source the raw material that guarantees this community the possibility to continue to live and work on their legendary land. It is from here that our certified, traceable, and sustainable chain starts. The raw material is the soft undercoat of baby yaks and Tibetan cashmere goats.
It all starts with combing a baby yak
After the long Tibetan winter, baby yaks and cashmere goats start to shed their precious undercoat which had kept them protected from extreme temperatures. This is the time of the year when we make the first trip of the season to the Plateau. It’s also the time when we make our purchase promise: we guarantee that we will buy the fiber at a price higher than at market.
Baby yaks are not sheared; their down is combed after their first winter, right before it would shed spontaneously on the grasslands at the start of spring. A completely natural change of coat—this is why our yarn can be considered a vegan fiber.
We select and clean the down.
We return to the grasslands a few months later, and together with the herders we collect the best quality down. It’s an occasion for working together precious training to teach the breeders how to get the best out of the natural renewal of the down, by respecting this very precious raw material.
Once the down is collected, it is cleaned manually and separated from the waste – the rougher hair -which is used to build the nomads’ tents. At this stage the down is sent to a local laboratory where it undergoes dehairing, which thoroughly separates the finest down from the waste. At the end of this process only 30% of what has been collected will be used to make our yarns. The rejected 70% is used by the Tibetans to construct their tents and for mattresses that are donated to monasteries. We are working on a project that aims to use this discarded material to also produce insulating panels for homes to fight the extremely cold Tibetan winter temperatures and save energy for heating.
Here we are in Italy: the Tibetan undercoat becomes a precious yarn.
And now, the best of the best collected undercoat is finally ready to be shipped to Italy. Here the yarn is spun using carded spinning, generally reserved for the most precious yarns. We have chosen small spinning workshops in the Biellese area, at the foot of the Alps between Piedmont and Switzerland, where textile culture is of centuries-old excellence.
To respect the environment and to safeguard the natural properties of the fiber, the yarns do not undergo depigmentation. In this way, the authentic natural color is preserved, without affecting its original properties and without treatments that would require polluting agents. Carded spinning allows the yarn to achieve an incredible softness and tactile pleasantness, ideal for knitting and crochet.
Soft as cashmere, warmer than merino wool, this smooth undercoat protects the animals even when the outside temperature plummets to minus40 below. Baby yaks’ undercoat is a very fine and extremely strong natural fiber that allows the garments made with this yarn to have an almost infinite life-span and to be handed down from one generation to the next. Exactly like the wisdom at the heart of yak herding and of the manufacturing of the yarn obtained from their undercoat.
Cashmere goats are raised in an extremely wide area that stretches from Afghanistan to the central Asian republics and Mongolia, but the most noble of all cashmere comes from Tibetan goats. Their undercoat is made of long staples (which ensure the yarn is strong and the final products averse to pilling) and of an extreme softness, with gauges that reach 14 microns. The world’s most refined cashmere.