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Many Tibetan communities have limited cash income.
Across the Tibetan plateau, herders primarily earn their income through selling livestock, picking caterpillar fungus, and short-term construction jobs. They have limited access to decent education & health care.
Yaks are an underutilized asset.
90% of the world’s yak population lives in Western China, across the provinces of Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu, & Xinjiang. Local communities do not know the value of their resources and even if they do, are unable to connect to international markets.
Our name is inspired by the fiber.
SHOKAY means “yak down” in Tibetan. The “Knot of Eternity” on our yak represents our belief in economic sustainability.
Yaks are more scarce than animals of most other luxury fibers.
There are over 1 billion sheep in the world, 130 million cashmere goats, but only 14 million yaks. 90% of the world’s yak population can be found in western China.
Yak down is a luxury fiber that is relatively unknown to the fashion world.
International fiber experts claim that yak down rivals the softness of cashmere, alpaca, and qiviut (source: Time Magazine, April 2007).
The average fineness of down from an adult yak is 18-20 microns, while the length is around 30-40 mm. Yaks that live in higher altitudes have finer fiber. The most common natural color of the yak is a dark chocolate brown, but can also be found in white, tan, and grey. Unlike wool, the scales of yak fiber are in a waved mosaic pattern, resulting in a very smooth fiber that does not itch.
Each yak only produces 100g of down per year.
SHOKAY yak down is hand combed from yaks that live in the Himalayan regions of Western China. The softness and exclusiveness of yak down make it a luxury fiber, as each yak only produces 100g of down each year.
Hei Ma He Village was SHOKAY’s 1st sourcing site.
Hei Ma He Township is located on the southern side of the Qinghai Lake, 250km away from Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province. The population of the township is around 14,000 people, divided into 4 villages and 11 subgroups. Most of the people are Tibetan nomads of the yellow sect.
SHOKAY has been sourcing from this township since 2007. In 2011, Shokay sourced fiber from over 13,000 yaks, just over 50% of the total yak population of the township. Beyond Hei Ma He, SHOKAY has also expanded its sourcing base to Golok.
More Herder Stories >>
Some of our yarns are handspun by local women in Hei Ma He.
An exclusive selection of our yarns are handspun by the Qinghai Spinner's Cooperative in Hei Ma He. Since 2010, Cate Carter, an experienced fiber expert, has been training a group of local women how to handspin yarns. Although handspinning is a common skill amongst older women on the Tibetan plateau, they are more familiar with a drop spindle rather than a spinning wheel. Training them to work on a spinning wheel not only increases their productivity but also the range of yarns they can produce.
Shokay established its hand knitting cooperative in 2007 on Chongming Island.
Chongming Island, located next to Shanghai, is China’s third largest island. It is largely agricultural. Most of Chongming’s working population actually resides in Shanghai, where there are more job opportunities.
Knitting provides women in rural areas the opportunity to earn additional income with flexible work hours so they can still attend to their household responsibilities.
More Knitter Stories >>
Shokay Yarns feature both machine spun and hand spun yarns that are 100% yak, yak/wool blends, yak/pima cotton blends, & yak/bamboo blends. With yarn counts that vary from 18s to 60s, the yarns can be used for machine knitting, machine weaving, and hand knitting.Many brands around the world have started using Shokay Yarns in their designs.
Using our yak yarns not only ensure the highest quality and traceability, but also the broadest social impact.
Shokay Collections are classic Shokay products that represent timeless elegance with a modern twist. The pieces highlight the softness of the yak down, leaving no doubt its status as a luxury fiber.
Shokay Collections are sold in the Shokay Flagship Store in Shanghai and around the world in over 10 countries.
The Collection has particularly strong presence in Germany and Japan.
Shokay has collaborated with many brands & designers to encourage broader use of yak down in fashion.
The collaborations highlight the possibilities of what can be designed with the fiber and how it can be integrated with different collections.