15th February 2017, London
British fair trade luxury knitwear brand Tengri has been selected as one of Selfridges’ Bright New brand ambassadors to take part in the Material World sustainable fashion project. The platform aims to advance conversations around developments in sustainable fashion design and retailing, sharing stories of best future-gazing design and production, while honouring the strengths of traditional textile manufacturing practice, in the UK and beyond.
As part of the project, the company addresses the problem of the overwhelming popularity of materials such as cashmere, which has resulted in the over-grazing of land and, in some instances, the maltreatment of animals. The solution could be using unexpected yet equally as luxurious materials that have a transparent supply chain and which benefit the communities in which they are created.
Over the next two months, the brand will be showcasing its latest capsule menswear collection in store, where shoppers can discover, experience and buy from new creative brands pioneering sustainable materials in fashion, design and retailing. The collection includes signature pieces such as the Tengri Chevron Coat, the Gauntlet sweater, and The Mariner sweater, created in collaboration with menswear label, Harry Stedman. An exclusive range of knitwear has been created in line with the event including a contemporary Varsity Jacket, and special edition marl beanies and scarves. The coveted staples featuring socks, scarves and beanies will also be available in store.
The collection was based on the theme of Warrior. The company was inspired by the nomadic traditions in Mongolia and equally Celtic symbols and insignia seen on shields, castles and other battle paraphernalia. The collection reflects what it means to be a modern-day warrior today, according to Nancy Johnston, Tengri founder and CEO.
“We wanted to show the interconnected nature of the world and how sustainability is a practical alternative to so many of the wasteful practices of today’s fashion industry. I think this is the real battle we face today. Our collection is very upfront about the journey of the material from yarn to garment. The design of each piece includes a little bit of symbolism to represent a journey, as seen in the Chevron or Insignia coat and our Emblem scarf. Each uses pure, undyed and all-natural Noble Yarns, made from yak fibres,” explained Ms Johnston.
The idea behind Tengri was conceived by Nancy Johnston, a social entrepreneur, when she was travelling with friends and staying with herder families in Mongolia. Nancy became fascinated by the delicate and interwoven relationship between people, animals and the land, developing a deeper understanding and respect for the bond between the herder families' livelihoods, their yaks, and the Mongolian landscape. This experience inspired Nancy to set up Tengri and back in London.
The company launched a Crowdfunder campaign in 2014 to raise funds for its ethical fashion projects in the UK and Mongolia. The campaign, which did not reach its financial goal, aimed to raise enough funding to enable us to purchase an increased amount of noble fibres from yak nomadic herder families in Mongolia.
“The campaign definitely helped to raise Tengri’s profile and, although we did not reach our target, we were overwhelmed that so many supporters reached out and invested in Tengri directly. In fact, this meant we exceeded our target, and the funding helped us work with even more nomadic herders in Mongolia, supporting 4,500 families,” commented Ms Johnston.
The London based company’s products are made with yak fibres. As well as being 100% sustainably sourced, Tengri Noble Yarns are as soft as cashmere, warmer than merino wool, hypoallergenic, resistant to water and odours, and more resistant to pilling than other luxury fibres, according to the company.
Through participation in this project, the brand says it wants to make it simple for everyone to create change. “With greater awareness of the issues around sustainability, and retail shops stocking better products, it will be easier for more people to buy sustainable products that do good,” said Ms Johnston.
“In the short term, it would be great if the Material World project inspires more people to think about where their clothes really come from and how it is made. It can be hard to resist what seems like a bargain – “fast fashion” – but there are reasons why a garment is so cheap. If more customers ask questions about the origin of their clothing, they can make better-informed choices and use their buying power as an easy first step to creating change. Brands will respond positively.”
“As a lifestyle brand, we’re exploring collaborations beyond fashion. We’ve recently collaborated with Savoir Beds to create a bed of unrivalled comfort, made with heritage craftsmanship and applying new technologies to our premium and rare yak fibres,” said Ms Johnston.
“This type of project proves that luxury and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. And we’re working on more exciting developments in the world of sustainable luxury powered by nature and technological innovations.”
The Selfridges Material World – What on earth are you wearing project explores the materiality of clothes and their effect on our world. The project focuses on eight materials and problems associated with their production and their use in everyday life. These include wool, cotton, leather, linen, plastic, denim, cashmere, and viscose.
The project selected eight designers as Bright New brand ambassadors, who with their products aim to contribute to finding the solution to these problems. In detail, the issues and challenges are discussed in the short film produced by Sara Andreasson and Anna Ginsburg.