Your top yak wool questions answered
Updated: May 15
Are you seeking a new, sustainable, ethical fibre for your fashion brand?
Look no further.
We've been advocates for the yak and its wool for over 17 years and for good reason. It’s warm, soft, ethically sourced and sustainable.
As a business, choosing the right fibre is crucial, and we're here to answer your top questions about yak wool.
So without further ado, let's dive in and discover why yak wool is the future of fashion.
What products can be developed from yak wool?
One of the biggest misconceptions about yak wool is that it's prickly and so rare, it can't be produced at scale. However, it can be spun and knitted into various apparel and accessories with the proper techniques and machinery.
You can make anything from sweaters, pants, jackets, shirts, and coats for apparel. Yak wool is even versatile enough for outerwear and base layers, making it perfect for layering in the winter. It doesn’t end there. Yak wool is also hypoallergenic, making it an excellent option for those with sensitive skin.
For accessories, you can use yak wool to make hats, scarves, shawls, and gloves. These items are perfect for keeping you warm during the colder months, and the yarn's softness is guaranteed to make it a wardrobe staple.
Why is yak wool more sustainable than other fibres?
First, yak wool is a naturally grown biodegradable animal fibre, making it eco-friendly. Unlike synthetic fibres, which can take hundreds of years to break down, yak wool decomposes naturally and returns to the soil.
Secondly, yaks are farmed on grassland. They are cared for by nomadic herders who migrate the yaks every season. Unlike conventional farming, which can result in soil degradation and erosion, yak farming promotes healthy land practices.
Yaks have shorter tongues than cashmere goats. They nibble on the grass, leaving roots in the soil. This helps to prevent soil erosion and helps to keep the Tibetan region green and beautiful.
Yaks also reproduce super slowly. A female yak only gives birth to a baby yak on average once every two years, so it takes time for herders to actually expand their herd. This ensures that the population of yaks remains stable and that their grazing doesn't exceed the land's carrying capacity.
Fun fact: yaks are known to release less methane than any other animals- lessening their carbon footprint even more!
Want to know more about yak in comparison to other fibres?
Is yak wool itchy?
One of the reasons yak wool is so comfortable to wear is because the scales of the fibre are very smooth. These scales enable a comfortable, non-irritating texture that is comparable to cashmere (yep, it’s that soft).
Another factor contributing to yak wool's luxurious feel is its micron measurement. Natural fibres are measured by micron, with smaller sizes indicating a finer, and often more expensive, fibre. Yak wool is typically around 18.5-19.5 microns, which is finer than most Merino wool.
Is yak wool warm?
In short, yak wool is warmer than wool and softer than cashmere. Yep, you read that right.
Yaks are shaggy, ox-like creatures living in the snowy Tibetan highlands of 3500m or higher altitudes. These animals have adapted to the extreme climate by growing a thick coat of hair that keeps them warm in temperatures reaching -40°C. So, you can only imagine how warm yak wool knitwear is.
The best part is that the structure of yak fibre makes it uniquely suited to retain heat while allowing air to circulate, meaning it can keep you warm without overheating.
How is yak wool harvested?
Unlike sheep, yaks are not sheared. Instead, their wool naturally moults every year when spring turns to summer on the plateau. If the wool is not harvested, it will simply fall to the grasslands and naturally decompose.
Yak wool is hand combed. This is because yaks have a very thick coat, and the fibre is embedded in their hair. Hand combing is a delicate and time-consuming process, but it ensures that only the finest fibres are harvested, leaving the coarser hairs behind. It also doesn’t hurt the animal.
Did you know that each yak only provides around 100g of the softest down fibres annually? This makes yak wool a rare and precious commodity, which is highly sought after by those who appreciate its unique properties.
Is yak wool expensive?
The question on everybody’s lips- how costly is this incredible fibre?
Regarding cost, yak wool sits comfortably in the middle of some of your favourite fibres. It's cheaper than cashmere but more expensive than wool.
Cashmere has long been considered the epitome of luxury in natural fibres. However, its high price point often puts it out of reach for many consumers. Yak wool offers more softness and warmth at a lower cost.
Yak wool is more expensive than wool. Thanks to its unmatched warmth and softness, it is easy to see why.
Have we answered your questions?
If you haven’t found the answer you’re looking for, be sure to get in touch with us. After over 17 years of studying, appreciating and creating incredible yak wool collections, we consider ourselves pretty knowledgeable.
We’re more than happy to answer any questions about the yak, the Tibetan region and anything else regarding the production process!