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I travelled to Mongolia in 2013, a lifelong dream I had carried for 20 years. I was captivated by the vast landscapes, the nomadic herders’ way of life, the strength and self-reliance of the Mongolian people (young and old) who live off the land and animals in such a remote and isolated place.
I first saw a yak while I was living with a herder family and I immediately fell in love with the animal. I discovered that Mongolian yak wool and the future of wild animals are threatened by rapid industrialisation and the desertification of the land, largely because of intensive grazing of cashmere goats.
Noble yarn made from yaks is a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to cashmere. It is as soft as cashmere, warmer than merino wool, breathable, odour-resistant, hypoallergenic and less prone to balling and fluffing than other fibres.
The word Tengri means a pantheon of sky gods that govern human existence and natural phenomenon on earth. When you travel through Mongolia, you’re always under the endless blue skies and you see blue ribbons around trees, rocks and other spiritual places honouring Tengri. Tengri was also the name of my friend’s cat in Mongolia and I liked the meaning so much that I borrowed it to name my brand.
Nancy Johnston is the founder of Tengri, a dynamic London-based fashion brand and noble yarn technology specialist that is championing Mongolian farmers its prestige yarns and directional knitwear made from the fibres of noble yaks. Working as a collective movement, Tengri combines design, fashion, ethics, technology, business, environmental activism and individual consumer choice to do good.
Bringing Mongolian noble fibres to the forefront of the fashion and textile industries, Tengri is helping to preserve the Mongolian landscape, protect its wildlife and support the nomadic herders’ way of life, threatened by rapid industrialisation and land degradation.
Launched in 2014, Tengri has established ethical trade with co-operatives involving over 1,500 herder families in Mongolia’s mountainous Khangai region. The families handcomb the yak fibres that are only available once a year.
Tengri is the first British brand to manufacture Mongolian noble yak yarns here in the UK by highly skilled heritage craftsman, launching new luxury fibres from its Yorkshire mill in December 2015. Tengri’s development technology combined with source fibres from noble yak species ensures the highest quality of yak yarn on the market today, with properties to rival and transcend those of cashmere.
The Tengri fashion label currently comprises the ‘Warrior collection’ -directional hand knitted jumpers, tailored ‘Warrior’ trousers, coats, shorts, beanie hats, scarves and gloves. The new collection ‘The Rider’ launches in February 2016.
Designed in-house by Tengri’s founder together with designer and co-founder Carlo Volpi, and using unique technologies and fabrics designed by textiles students from Heriot-Watt and Bath Spa universities, the garments are made in Scotland and London, where quality craftsmanship and technological innovation add new value to Mongolian Khangai noble yarns.
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