The Undercoat beneath Coarse Hair
Yak is a totem animal of the Tibetan wilderness and its down fiber is a precious material on the Plateau. We use a good amount of yak down fiber in our product at SHANGDROK as well.
The rough appearance and the massiveness of the yak gives people the impression that its hair must be thick and tough. That is indeed why the nomads also choose yak coarse hair to build their tents.
However, under a layer of the long coarse hair lies another layer of undercoat, known as “Khu-lle”, the yak down fiber, with an opposite quality that is short and soft. Yak down fiber belongs to one of the finest hairs found in the animal kingdom. Its ability to provide insulation and retain warmth allows the yak herd to withstand the harshest winter on the plateau.
To survive winter, Yak down fiber will grow in autumn and fall off naturally before next summer. Except for the newborn calf, every yak produces limited down fiber every year. However, the softest yak down fiber can only be found on the neck of a two-year-old calf. The amount of down fiber that can be collected is less than a few hundred grams, making it even more precious and rare.
Yak down fiber is light, breathable and provides efficient insulation. Its softness can hardly cause allergy or itching to babies with extremely soft and sensitive skins. Although it is not commonly known nor popular, the fashion industry has started to recognize this special and precious material in recent years, valuing it as soft and warm as cashmere wool.