Fabric Focus: What is Yak Fiber?
◆ ◆ ◆
For decades, cashmere has been king in the world of luxury fabrics. Now, there’s a new sustainable alternative in town: yak. With a coziness that rivals cashmere and added benefits of breathability, it’s no wonder the material has been quickly gaining popularity in the apparel world (and at UBB headquarters). Get the lowdown on this luxe fabric with these need-to-know yak fiber facts.
Yak fiber is an ultra-soft, natural, and sustainable cashmere alternative produced from either the yak’s undercoat or coarse outer hairs. The fibers are naturally extremely fine, making it the perfect swap-in for cashmere. The yak’s outer coat is used for its strength and durability, while the undercoat is used for its silky handfeel. These versatile fibers have been used for centuries to make everything from ropes to blankets.
Basically a buffalo with longer, shaggier hair. They mostly keep their roaming within the Himalayas, the Tibetan Plateau, and Mongolia and can survive extremely harsh climates thanks to their hardy coats.
The yak fiber used in sweaters and tees is typically made using the soft undercoat. Yaks naturally shed these luxuriously silky hairs every spring. Come shedding season, herders will comb the yaks to remove the undercoat, which is then cleaned and spun into ultra-fine yarns.
This unique fiber boasts a range of benefits, making it ideal for weaving
into everyday essentials, like tees and tanks.
We love yak fiber as a sustainable alternative to cashmere. Cashmere production begins with goats, a lot of them, and often in a fairly limited area. All those hooves quickly impact the soil beneath. Heavily trampled ground coupled with overgrazing have led to desertification in areas of high cashmere production, such as Mongolia. Currently, 90% of Mongolia’s land is at risk of degrading into desert. Yak, on the other hand, have a much lighter step, reducing the potential for over-trampled grounds.
This season, the UBB design team was inspired by yak’s luxurious feel to elevate everyday essentials. These pieces are lightweight yet impossibly soft, thanks to a touch of this sustainable fiber.