The first Mongolian yak fibre yarn manufactured in the UK is being launched this month, providing manufacturers with a new source of ethically produced fibres that offer a sustainable alternative to cashmere and boast a completely traceable supply chain.

The refined yak yarns are being marketed as the Khangai Noble Yarns Collection and, according to noble yarn specialist Tengri, have properties akin to vicuna and transcend those of cashmere.

The raw fibre comes from Mongolian herder co-operatives, where over 1,500 nomadic herder families are working with Tengri to supply hand-combed fibres from the indigenous and semi-wild noble yak from the Khangai mountains.

The company says the new prestige fibres provide a conscientious solution to the weakened supply chains and quality of key raw materials such as cashmere.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, 90% of Mongolia is fragile dry-land, under constant threat of increasing desertification. Conservation biologists have found that unsustainable levels of cashmere goats and other environmentally damaging livestock have consumed up to 95% of forage across the Tibetan plateau, Mongolia and northern India, leaving just 5% for wild animals to graze.

"The fashion industry is experiencing, first-hand, the detrimental impact that economic and environmental challenges are having on the root source of much of its premium yarns," explains Tengri founder Nancy Johnston. "This can be seen in the supply and quality of the world's cashmere produce. The current landscape is unsustainable and we must make a change."