Pue yak wool man weaving yak wool fabrics in nepal

Allergies in both the food and clothing industry seem to be on the rise. Maybe it is due to having information and the ability to “Google” to our hearts desire, or maybe our environment is becoming less hospitable to our poor lifestyle choices.

The world is a fascinating place and each person is wonderfully different. One of our longest customers who we met 12 years ago on our first day at East London’s Spitalfields Market, will only wear silk and she has found it to be the only material that agrees with her skin. She caught our eye and we struck up a conversation on natural fibres. We have another customer who cannot wear cashmere, another who cannot wear wool (this seems to be our most common allergies we have noticed in our years of trading)

Here at The Curious Yak we work with both manmade and natural fibres in our products and we have definitely seen an increase in customers asking us about allergies to both these materials. This got us thinking about allergies in general and whether or not they were more common in manmade fibres or those that are found naturally.


Allergies to manmade fibres

Manmade fibres get a bad rap. They are associated with “fast fashion” as many of them are indeed cheap to produce. However, this blanket ruling is not completely justified.

Yes, the likes of cheap low-end fashion stores need to produce a dress by the thousands that cost pennies to make. However, there are a number of industries that see the science in man-made materials and what they can offer. Imagine a cashmere parachute for example, wouldn’t feel very confident relying on that!

However well produced manmade fibres offer things that natural fabrics simply cannot. Faster drying time, incredible heat retention, remarkable strength, stunning reactions to certain dyes to name only a few.

As with many things you do indeed pay for what you get, cheap manmade and mass-produced items are a strain on our planet. However well made, considered fabrics, offer a lot. The main reason allergies occur in cheap manmade fibres is because they often have sub-standard dye and other chemicals used on them on to make the garment. It is often these chemicals that cause the allergic reaction, rather than the fibres themselves.

For those who find wool irritates their skin, they may find that manmade fibres don’t have the same effect. Always buy from a reputable source with customer testimonials.

The Curious Yak puts customer service as a top priority and is happy to answer any questions. We have yak wool items as well as manmade fibres all sourced with care and attention.


Allergies to natural fibres

We have been dealing with natural fibres for years now. The increasingly rare yak wool was the starting point of our company and our first range of yak wool winter scarves. Well produced textiles using natural fibres are of course more costly. We deal with independent makers and always play fair. This means we pay for the fibres to be collected sometimes by hand as cars cannot reach the locations where a number of our items are sourced.  

Natural fibres need more care and attention in the upkeep. It is a myth that cashmere cannot be washed or can only be dry cleaned. With the correct detergent (Marks and Spencer do a fabulous one) your cashmere can be popped into the machine without apprehension. Do not use fabric softener with Cashmere or Yak wool as it will damage the fibres and is not needed.

Wool is the most common fibre to irritate the skin, however recent data suggest that this is mostly caused by lanolin, a naturally occurring wax produced by the animal. In contrast to the irritation this can cause in wearing the wool item, lanolin is used a lot in the beauty industry as a moisturiser and to sooth minor skin irritations.

Our conclusion to this question, is there is no right or wrong. You have to try the item and see what feels good on your skin. Don’t rule out all wool items for example as all are far from created equal. If the wool sweater you received as a gift at Christmas is uncomfortable to wear, Yaks wool or cashmere is a fantastic alternative and both feel amazing against the skin.

Ask stores, good and ethical companies know and understand their products. They will be able to offer you advice on both fabric care and the best choice for you to look and feel great. The main thing to remember whether you are buying products made of manmade or natural fibres is that you should always try to buy the best quality possible. In doing this, you can be sure that your garments are made with care, thoughtfulness and without any hidden nasties.

Want to try out some of our amazing wraps? Visit our online scarf store where we have a number of scarves and wraps. We have yak wool, grade A cashmere, ponchos and other products in stock.

If you have any questions or queries, please get in touch!


All images on this blog have been taken by us with permission of all involved. All images are protected under copyright are not to be used without written consent.  

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