By Arwa Lodhi
High up at 3200 meters above sea level in the village of Zorge Ritoma, in Gansu Province, China, you’ll find around 1,500 nomads, 6,000 yaks, 20,000 sheep and 1 incredible luxury clothing atelier: Norlha.
Using local knowledge from Tibet, India, Nepal, Cambodia and China, Norlha Textiles has developed its own unique methods to transform cruelty-free yak fiber into new kinds of luxury textiles. Their pioneering, community based model respects the yak herding traditions of the nomadic Tibetan people while helping their 120 employees also embrace modernity.
Founded by the mother-and-daughter team of Kim and Dechen Yeshi, Norlha trains Tibetan nomads to brush out and spin yaks’ dense undercoats into a soft, highly durable fiber, which forms the foundation for the brand’s collection of luxurious scarves, shawls, and blankets. Artisans learn Nepali and Indian spinning and weaving skills at the Norlha workshop in the Tibetan village of Zorge Ritoma—and through this income, reduce their reliance on nomadic herding, which is now under threat due to climate change and overgrazing.
The result of this work is a collection of warm, soft, loose garments that look stylish whether they’re worn on the Tibetan steppes or in the city streets.
To purchase, visit www.norlhatextiles.com or at Bergdorf Goodman, Dara Artisans, Nuraxi, Dnolo, or Infaces Japan.