Updated: Apr 12
Despite yak wool’s premium high-quality feel, it is still one of the rarest fibres in the fashion market.
A United Nations report described yak wool as “comparable to cashmere. If so, the question is, why isn't it as well known and as often used as cashmere?
Shokay and Yak Wool
Whilst studying at Harvard, Shokay co-founder Carol Chyau knew she wanted to find a way to impact social change and sustainability. She figured she would start by exploring one of the more remote places in Asia, the Tibetan plateaus of Western China. There, she discovered a fibre that she believed could contribute to a sustainable future for fashion- yak wool.
Since Western China is home to 80% of the world’s yak population, Carol knew that by connecting local Tibetan herders to a responsible supply chain, she could directly impact their livelihoods in a sustainable way. This became the foundation of Shokay.
Shokay is passionate about educating brands, retailers and consumers about the benefits of using yak wool over more commonly used fibers such as wool or cashmere. In fact, a Wall Street Journal article described yak wool as “The New Cashmere”.
But why is this?
Yak Wool Compared to Cashmere
Not only is yak wool a new alternative to other types of wool, it is also a lot more sustainable. This is because yaks create less damage to the grass they eat from, and are still herded using traditional nomadic practices rather than being farmed at a fixed location. All herders follow natural herding practices to care for the yaks, guaranteeing the yaks are safe, secure, and free to roam around.
The natural properties of yak wool, however, are the most impressive. It is considered to be 30% warmer than wool and 1.6x more breathable than cashmere, meaning that while yak wool will keep you incredibly warm, you won’t feel stuffy. Yak fibres are also incredibly smooth in texture and super fine, making them perfect for next-to-skin products.
And if you’re looking at yak wool’s technical properties, the fibers are 18-20 microns in diameter and 26-40mm in length. These proportions of yak wool make it buttery soft to touch while maintaining its durability and warmth for wear.
Why Not Try Yak Wool?
Shokay manages the quality of yak wool straight from the source. We classify fibers by their physical properties, ensuring the right type of fibers are used in spinning, weaving, and knitting different type of products.
Yak down is fast becoming a popular luxury fibre. From Hermes, Ermenegildo Zegna, to Cos, brands are starting to recognize the opportunities of yak wool. It has the feel of cashmere but it's also more affordable. Time to get your brand ahead of the game!