In Depth

Thursday, September 12, 2019 – 10:32am

From the nomadic herder families of Mongolia to the most exclusive stores in London, Nancy Johnston’s Tengri fashion label aims to champion sustainability, respect for the natural environment and fair trade.

The Week Portfolio caught up with Johnston to find out how she is making Mongolian yak wool fashionable.

What is it about Mongolia that inspired you to start your business?

Travelling to Mongolia was a lifelong dream I had carried for 20 years. The vast landscapes, the nomadic herders’ way of life, the strength and self-reliance of the Mongolian people (young and old) living off the land and animals in such a remote and isolated place – all this captivated me.

In 2013 I took my first visit, with no agenda other than to explore, and my experience there led to the birth of Tengri! I lived with a yak herder family in the remote Khangai region and saw first-hand the challenges they faced. The family were desperately trying to save money for their young daughter’s education, but many of their animals had died due to a combination of land desertification and a prolonged winter.

Critically, what I discovered was that the nomadic way of life and future of wild animals are threatened by rapid industrialisation and desertification of the land, largely due to the intensive grazing of cashmere goats, which contributes to climate change. Nomadic herder families in Mongolia supply the world’s top fashion brands with luxury fibres – contributing to the €9 billion global cashmere market. But many nomadic herder families live on subsistence wages of around £1 per day.

What are the specific harms being done by the fashion industry that you are hoping to address? And where exactly does Tengri fit into the equation?

As we are all increasingly aware, after oil, the fashion industry is the second-largest polluter of the environment. This has a dire impact on land, sea, people and wildlife – and this is where we come in.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, as much as 90% of Mongolia is fragile dry-land, under constant threat of increasing desertification. Conservation biologists have found that unsustainable …read more

Source:: The Week – All news

      

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Tengri: the brand making Mongolian yak wool fashionable

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