Khunu is one of the first brands to focus on making beautiful sweaters from yak fibre, a rare and extremely warm fine animal fibre. The idea was first developed during a bitterly cold mid-December trip to the Tibetan plateau, where over sips of hearty yak milk tea founders Julian and Aaron learned from herders how yaks provided all the warmth, fuel and sustenance they needed to survive harsh winters at altitude. During these conversations it became apparent that although yak was a great fibre, it was no longer extensively used, and only low prices were being offered to herders, which seemed strange given its reputed qualities.
After several months of further research it became clear that yak-down had the potential to be a major new luxury fibre. Not only was it warmer than wool, it felt great and had a durability not found in fine cashmere. Being bovines, yaks have less destructive grazing habits than goats and sheep, meaning less risk of desertification and damage to fragile ecosystems.
Since those early days we've seen a growing acceptance of yak at the premium end of the textile industry, meaning fair prices for the fibre can be sustained. Each year our network of small, high-quality manufacturing partners in China, Italy and the United Kingdom help us make incremental improvements to products as we learn more about the fibres we're working with.
To help sustain those at the source of this supply chain we invest two percent of our revenues back into the communities we source from. These two percent contributions go to entrepreneurial Tibetans who are trying to make a positive difference in their communities, and often the ventures they found are directly linked to our own supply chain. Our partnership with iYak in Qinghai has created jobs, new skills and helped herders maintain their traditional ways of life.
Travel was the original inspiration behind Khunu, and its tales from the plateau that continue to intrigue and inspire us to explore further…..thankfully we can now do that in extra warmth and comfort.