FROM MILAN TO MONGOLIA
About 8300 KM from Milan where our journey started lies Ulanbatoor, the capital of Mongolian. Home to 1,4 million people, known for Genghis Khan and renowned for the world’s most exclusive cashmere. The fibre of Kings.
Discovering that all superior cashmere available on the Italian market to contrary believes in fact originated from Mongolia spiked our curiosity for the lands and off we went. After countless hours of research and days spent on trains, plans, cars and even horse backs we finnalt reach our destination. The Mongolian wilderness. By living with nomadic families far away from civilisation and learning their ways of life, it’s also how we discovered the secrets of growing the worlds most superior cashmere fiber centuries perfected by the Capra Hircus (cashmere goat) combined with ancient nomadic pass down traditional craftsmanship .
THE SECRET TO THE WORLD’S BEST CASHMERE
It might be simple, and it might not be a surprise, but the genuine secret to perfecting the worlds best animal fibre lies in the climate that surrounds the animal.
In Mongolia, animals still graze freely. Goats share the wast landscape with wild horses, snow leopards, ravens and even wild camels. It is truly a unique and memorising landscape. Untouched by man and pollution, yet fragile with a freezing climate, furiously harsh to humans. It is this, unbearably cold climate which have evolved Mongolian animals to create the most precious fur each animal breed spend centuries on perfecting for their species survival. Thus, resulting in fibers incomparable to all other available on the market where animals are farmed for the industriess and kept from their natural surroundings and habitat.
This is the secret to why Mongolian Cashmere is still considered the fibre of Kings, the very same fiber, which has mesmerised Eastern Emperors and European Royalty for centuries.
Mongolia’s nomadic people live in an unforgiven climate. it takes a certain kind of tradition, knowledge and love for the land to be able to survives living in remote Ger-tents when temperatures drops to - 60 degrees Celsius during winter.
The Mongolian Nomads are amazingly skilled at the art of great cashmere, with traditions passed down for centuries. While other industries rely on unreliable machines to sieve cashmere fibre to determine if it’s A, B or C grade the nomads know their cashmere and looks and measure each strand of combed hair from the goat to determine the exact quality of that particular fiber. Something unique to the Mongolian culture and cashmere sector.
To qualify as A grade each single strand of hair in they yarn must come from the undercoat of the fleece and have fibres longer than 39 micron and be thinner than 17 micron . The fibres used in our yarns averages at 42micron in length and 16.5 micron in thickness, thanks to the skilled nomadic team and their exceptional know how expertise.
The B & C grade cashmere fibers isn’t waste itself but often sold to China and other cashmere producing countries or sometimes even used as insulation in mattresses and houses.
Having had the opportunity to live with some of Mongolias nomadic families and learn from their lives made us understad the unique secrets to Mongolian Cashmere fiber a bit more which also led us to discovered the other precious animals of the Mongolian Nomads. Animals who just as their goats “friends” live in the same cold climate and have perfected a gorgeous and rare fur know as the The Noble Fiber of Yak and Bactrian Camel.
Animals vitally important to the survival of Mongolia’s nomadic cultures (one of the last on earth) and also important to the survival of the irreplaceable Mongolian wilderness.
DIVERSIFYING THE COLLECTION
As thus, an equally important aspect of adding Yak and Camel as the quality of the fiber was the issue of grazing habits of goats. With all forms of production and consumptions there will naturally be by-effects. Some might be good and some might be very bad. As cashmere has become so popular it has also raised some larger issue with the modern cashmere production and the question of over consumption, bad farming and toxic pesticides. Goat are unfortunately one of the biggest contributors to desert spreading in Mongolia with their sharp hooves and habits of eating the plant with the root.
Goats are also a natural part of the Mongolian eco system when controlled and vital to the survival of the nomadic people, both for their milk ,meat and fleece.
Consequently, we don’t support farmed cashmere or the use of toxic pesticides and decided to diversify the collection, not only focusing on cashmere but also incorporating the fleece from the stout Yak and heroic Camel. Thus ensuring we maintain an incredible good fiber as well as help keep the Mongolian herds diverse with animals vital to the nomads and the eco systems, instead of contributing to making Mongolia overrun by cashmere goats.
THE GLORIOUS YAK
A proud animal who lives in the Himalayan mountains and throughout the Mongolian Gobi desert. According to some researcher, it originated from the buffalo while others claim it is actually part of the ax family.
What is certain is that this animal thrives on high latitudes, cold weather and is remarkably strong.
During spring the yak (liked most animals) shreds its hairs, which is then gathered by nomadic herders often the same ones who care for the goats and camels, although most yaks likes the woods and prefer the northern Mongolian climate to the gobi desert.
The softest and finest strands of hairs come from the yaks' undercoat on its stomach. The nomads are especially skilled in singling out these strands of hairs from the yaks' other wools which means each strand of hairs used in our collection has been hand-picked and holds an A grade level. The selected fibers are thereafter spun into the beautiful yarns used in our collection. In our yak collection, the hairs always stay their natural color without the use of pesticides or dye I.e its an all organic and cruelty-free process, resulting in the most incredible, soft and rare yarns.
Yak contrary to cashmere is very durable. It is not as delicate of fiber and much thicker than cashmere therefore not quite as soft. Still, it breaths beautiful and is incredibly warm. This is why we choose to make gloves and underclothing for extreme outdoor sports and weathers in this fiber.
It is truly a fiber for the explorers inside of us.
Animals living on the extreme
In Mongolia, the Bactrian camels share the Gobi desert alongside cashmere goats, yaks, horses, and nomadic people. These high endurance animals are often used by the nomads to transport utilities and sometimes even sick goats and cows.
Bactrian camels are incredibly adept at withstanding wide variations in temperature, ranging from freezing cold to blistering heat. They have a remarkable ability to go without water for months at a time, but when water is available they may drink up to 57 litres at once. When well fed, the humps are plump and erect, but as resources decline, the humps shrink and lean to the side. When moving faster than walking speed, the pace, by stepping forward with both legs on the same side (as opposed to trotting as horses). Camel speeds off up to 65 K, per hour (40 mph) have been recorded, but they rarely move this fast. Bactrian camels are also said to be good swimmers. The sense of sight is well developed and the sense of smell is extremely good. The lifespan of Bactrian camels is estimated at up to 50 years. They are truly remarkable animals and it, therefore, comes as no surprise that their fur is also considered to be one of the softest, rarest and finest in the world. This is due in part because the camel's hair (as soft as it might be) is more difficult to spin into quality yarn than their counter partners Yak and Camel. The fibers (hairs) are naturally much shorter which makes it more difficult to spin grade a yarn. Thus, it takes much more effort to single out the longest and most durable fibers for our yarn than for any other type of yarn. It is a lengthy process which only the most skilful of craftsmen can do. We only keep to the natural colours of the camel in our collection. It’s because there are no good ways of colouring camel hairs that is not toxic, yet. We are working on it and in the meantime, we hope you will like what the beautiful natural colours.
Thus we are incredibly proud to introduce our first camel yarn collection
THE FUTURE IS FRAGILE
During our time with the nomadic families, we quickly came to understand how harsh their lives are, how much they love their untouched lands, care about the animals, worry abut the survival of the culture and how incredible fragile their environment has become in just a few decades.
If you have an extra moment, please head over to our Philosophy - sustainability tag and learn what we are doing to help preserve Mongolia from over farming and desert spreading.