Meet The Designer - Khunu

October 27, 2017

Meet The Designer - Khunu

 Move over Merino...

Did you know that the shaggy beards created for the Dwarves in The Hobbit were made from Yak wool? They were such a big hit with the actors that even the glamorous female extras were lining up to be transformed into Goblins.

We don't have any hairy beards here at The Mantique but we do have Yak wool. If you care about the provenance of your pullovers and want knitwear that feels warm and luxurious then our newest British brand, Khunu, should be part of your wardrobe.


Introducing luxurious, Yak wool knitwear from Khunu to the collection at The Mantique.

Men's navy blue luxury jumper from Khunu. Yak wool knitwear for rugged adventures, available at The Mantique Winchester

We know these are going to be your favourite winter warmers as the cold nights draw in. As a special treat, we have invited Julian Wilson of Khunu to come and share stories of his adventures in China and the fascinating process of turning Yak wool into the most luxurious knitwear. Because you love the story behind the products we stock, we know this event will get booked quickly so book now to avoid disappointment.


The Mantique Introduces….

Julian will be our first guest designer to the shop. His story is amazing and the journey of the wool before it hits our shelves is fascinating. Here is a taster from when we interviewed him:


Where did the idea for Khunu come from?

I believe that great ideas usually come from personal experiences. Khunu was largely inspired by my travels through western China, but formulated through a personal interest my co-founder and I had in creating a business focused on making money and having a positive social impact.

Julian Wilson from Khunu, exploring the Tibetan Plateau with the Yak herders. Luxury men's knitwear available at The Mantique Winchester

What is really important to you?

There are three important elements to Khunu, and these have all broadly come from my own thinking; the communities we source from, the products we make, and the travels that continue to inspire us. I worry about our products not meeting people’s expectations, but fortunately we seem to get glowing reviews and many customers come back to re-purchase.  


Where do you get your inspiration from?

Most definitely my own travels, but also the more arduous travels of some of the early Himalayan explorers. They were treading new ground, opening people’s eyes to unexplored parts of the world, and predominantly using natural fibres to keep themselves warm. A wool sweater can be hard to beat…unless you wear yak of course!

Yak are crucial to survive harsh winters on the Tibetan Plateau. Yak wool is warm and luxurious. Luxury knitwear from Khunu available at The Mantique Winchester

What have you got planned for Khunu over the coming year?

We are about to start fundraising so next year we’ll be able to offer a wider range of garments, including lighter weight blends so we can better serve people in warmer climates and offer a spring/summer line. There are plenty of other ideas in the pipeline but it’s a bit early to talk about them just yet!


What do you do in your spare time/to relax?

People who run small businesses are always tied to them, but it’s important to regularly switch off for a few hours. I started cycling around ten years ago and find it a great way to relax and get away from things. Over the past few years I’ve started riding up to the Tibetan plateau to find new communities to work with, and learn more about the region. The speed of a bicycle makes it one of the best ways to explore places. If cycling doesn’t work I resort to alcohol with friends.

 Processing of Yak wool for luxury knitwear from Khunu available at The Mantique Winchester

Who is your role model?

I admire visionaries like Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales or Elon Musk. To have a vision is one thing but to see them through and rally others takes considerable talent. I also admire people like the late Tim Hetherington – storytellers willing to take considerable risks to make us more aware of the world we live in. 


Who is your male style hero?

It’s a bit of a cliché but Steve McQueen has to be one of the all time male style icons, and he has a look that transcends seasonal fashion and generations. Daniel Craig is perhaps a modern equivalent - rugged good looks combined with a certain sophisticated style.

Daniel Craig, style icon

What are your three top tips for stylish gents this season?

I’m slightly biased but a yak wool jumper is an absolute must! Scarves are a great way to keep warm and spice up what you’re wearing, and I like the trend towards men being bolder and wearing larger scarves. My second tip would be to get a good pair of smart boots. I have a pair of Red Wings Chukkas that are perfect when the weather sets in – they’re relatively smart and very practical, and I love the slightly aged look they now have. My final tip is buy less and be prepared to pay a bit more for quality. I rarely regret spending more on something a bit special.


Want to find out more?

Come along to The Mantique on November 30th at 6pm to meet Julian and be inspired. Booking is essential so reserve your place on our Facebook page here. There will be drinks, nibbles and a chance to do a bit of Christmas shopping for all those hard to buy for chaps.


Look forward to seeing you there!

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