Surrounded by rugged mountains, wild meadows, valleys and alpine lakes, Khangai may sound more like the home of a yoga retreat than a yak herd. However, the Mongolian ecoregion is grazing ground to an indigenous species of yak, a species producing some of the most luxurious fibres – and therefore cloth – in tailoring today.
The fibres are combed from the underbelly of the yak once a year, and one animal produces a mere 100g at a time. As soft as cashmere and warmer than merino wool, the fibres’ performance is down to the ecosystem in which the yaks exist; the fluctuating temperatures and mineral-rich grasslands of the area are unique to the region, producing a super-soft, strong and breathable fibre that you simply can’t find anywhere else.
After becoming fascinated with the ecosystem of the yaks, the herders and the landscape – and their reliance one another to survive – social entrepreneur Nancy Johnston founded Tengri, a London-based brand that champions sustainability above all else. Tengri has become the first and only technology specialist to refine Mongolian yarns in the UK, making a name for themselves in the luxury world by offering a fibre that is by nature limited edition and can, in turn, be woven into cloth of exceptional quality. Savile Row stalwart Huntsman is no stranger to sourcing rare fabrics to offer their customers exclusive opportunities. In 2007, the house purchased the world’s only bale of 11.9 micron 1PP wool, creating just 34 suit lengths with it, and has worked with Dugdale Bros. to create a replica of the naval cloth used by the crew of HMS Dreadnought in 1906. “We are dedicated to sourcing limited-edition luxury cloths. To be working with Tengri and to discover this unique fabric is very special,” Pierre Lagrange, Owner of Huntsman, says. “It’s key for Huntsman to find exquisite fabrics that stand up to the tests of time, and last for generations.” In collaboration with Tengri, Huntsman has acquired 60 metres of Khangai yak fibre cloth, a rare and exciting acquisition for the London tailoring house. To put that into perspective, it takes hand-combing approximately 1200 Khangai yaks to secure that amount of fabric.