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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 fibre into new kinds of sustainable luxury textiles that appeal to the modern consumer – and the best part? It’s 100% ethical.
Unlike cashmere goats, which pull grass from its roots when they graze, yaks don’t contribute to soil erosion in any way. Norhla’s 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 ensures the yak’s wool they use is sourced from the animal so gently and respectfully, vegans can proudly wear these garments and boast that they’re fully cruelty-free.
The label trains and fairly pays Tibetan nomads to brush out and spin yaks’ dense undercoats into a soft, highly durable fibre, which forms the foundation for the brand’s collection of luxurious scarves, shawls, and blankets. Furthermore, artisans learn Nepali and Indian spinning and weaving skills at the Norlha workshop in the Tibetan village of Zorge Ritoma–and through this income, they are able to reduce their reliance on nomadic herding, which is now under threat due to climate change and overgrazing (mainly from goats).
The result of Norlha’s work not only helps communities in the harsh environment of the Asian steppes, but also provides a lush collection of sustainable luxury clothing that’s warm, soft, and loose. Each of Norlha’s collections are classically stylish, no matter if they’re worn in the Tibetan temples or in the city streets.
For more information or to purchase, visit www.norlhatextiles.com or at Bergdorf Goodman, Dara Artisans, Nuraxi, Dnolo, or Infaces Japan.