CRAFTMANSHIP HANDED DOWN FROM GENERATIONS
Well-known for its rich cultural heritage and breathtaking landscapes, Nepal is one of the most captivating places on the planet. Located in the Himalayas, it is remarkable how they manage to retain their own distinctive culture, separate from their superpower neighbors, India and China.
Nepal has a long tradition of impeccably handcrafted products involving knowledge and skills that have been handed down for generations. The Nepali people are experts at using the exquisite materials that flourish around them – luxuriously soft and warm cashmere and yak wool from the Himalayas and beautiful wild silk.
By applying their exceptional skills with these special materials to products aimed at a global market, we hope to help preserve their craftsmanship and fuel the economic development the country desperately needs.
In Nepal, we make handspun and handwoven yak and cashmere products in local workshops in Kathmandu. We also produce machine-knit cashmere-linen blend products at a certified factory in the Biratnagar region.
While many textile companies turn to more developed and industrialized countries for production, we have chosen to manufacture our products the slower and more thoughtful way in Nepal. We believe the craftsmanship and material richness of Nepal is worth supporting and investing in. Rather than create a charity, we have developed local business relations based on a mutual understanding, trust, and responsibility.
By entering production in Nepal, we are not expecting our Nepalese partners to adopt methods of unsustainable mass production. Instead, we have embraced the more time intensive and handmade nature of Nepalese crafting, because this leads to products that can last a lifetime. Occasionally, this means that production can be quite unconventional and complicated. But prioritizing the quality and craft of the product over the lead time is what allows us to support Nepalese artisans’ livelihoods and traditions in a sustainable way.
Cashmere is beloved across the world for good reason – it is the softest wool of its kind and is very delicate, as its fibers are much shorter than those of other wools, like llama or merino. Cashmere is also a very precious material as one goat yields only 200-300 grams of pure cashmere a year, just enough for one medium weight sweater. All Aiayu cashmere is refined in Nepal, given their extensive expertise with the material
However, cashmere can be difficult to work with in a sustainable way. At Aiayu, we have found a very small community in Nepal from whom we are able to source cashmere responsibly while also supporting their traditional methods of craftsmanship. In this community, they have been expertly making cashmere items entirely by hand for centuries – handspinning cashmere fiber into yarn and weaving it into the most exquisite pieces. We aim to keep this tradition alive through continuous economic support and socially responsible production practices.
The basis of our handwoven cashmere products is a yarn which is entirely refined by hand – from sorting to spinning, weaving, and dying. This fiber comes from nomadic goatherds who live in the highlands of the Tibetan Plateau. Given the delicateness of cashmere fibers, our machine-knit products are blended with linen to enhance their durability while keeping the softness and the natural beauty of the cashmere.
The yak ox is an amazing creature roaming the remote hills of the Himalayas. The wool used in our yak products is made from the Yak Khulu – the finest, softest fiber from the yak. When treated properly, the fibers can be made into a wool that feels as soft as cashmere, yet as strong and warm as llama wool.
Normally a light brown colour, we only use yak wool in its natural form. All refinement of the wool – from sorting, spinning and weaving – is done by hand in small workshops of highly trained craftspeople. It takes a skilled spinner one month to spin two kilos of our yak wool – just enough for a handful of throws.