Opened in 2016 in Leh, the main focus of Lehvallée atelier was to develop skills and revatilized textile craft of Ladakh, and try to build a sustainaible economy based on the available natural resources in the region. Cashmere fibre, being a very important natural resource in Ladakh, became the obvious element for us to start with. Although, there were some basic skills and knowledge available in weaving and spinning amongst the locals, it took us months of training and experimentation before we could produce our first marketable product.
Lehvallée has grown steadily since, and today we have extended our atelier into design studio and showroom, where we also display and sell our creations – pashminas, shawls, scarves, throws, home accessories and fabrics. Besides cashmere, we also develop products and fabrics made from yak khullu, camel fibre and wool, produced locally in the region.
We have a newly built production unit in Choglamsar, on the outskits of Leh, that is fully equipped and allows us to quarantee the origin and authenticity of our product, end to end, from fibre to finished product. Our employees work here in a healthy and productive environment, taking the required time and attention to every creation.
Lehvallée atelier is open to visitors, on appointment.
Ladakh produces about 70 tonnes of Cashmere and more than 20 tonnes of Yak fibre, every year. It’s high altitude dry land, extreme weather conditions and freezing winds, makes it an ideal habitate for changra goats and Yaks, that produces some of the finest fibres in the world. Our products are made from the produce of these cattles, living at more than 4000m in the highlands of the region.
‘Ra’ means goat in Ladakhi, ‘Chang’ comes from the name of the region – Changthang, where the nomadic community lives. The term Changra is used for the cashmere goats, across the Himalaya belt.
Locally known as Lena or Pashm, Cashmere is the soft and fine inner fleece, found under the coarse guard hair of changra goats. They live in extreme climatic condition, where the winter temperatures stabilises as low as – 35° C, and the goats produce this warm inner fleece to protect themselves from the icy winds. In summer, during the molting season, the nomads delicately collect this fibre using a special comb, perpetuating this tradition for generations. A shawl made from pure Pashm or Lena, is a symbol of rarity and luxury throughout India.
Yaks have lived in the highlands of Ladakh and the western Himalayas for centuries. They are very resourceful animals and an important source of livelihood locally. They provide milk, meat and the fibre they produce serves to make tents, rugs and clothing. The nomads also derives income from selling yak cheese, butter and the fibre.
Yak fibre is very interesting and comes in different layers. The outer layer is long and coarse, and they are traditionally used by the nomads for making ropes and tents. The mid layer is slightly softer but still remains coarse and uncomfortable. They are used for making cloths and rugs. But underneath all this, the third layer of yak fibre, known as khullu, is as soft and warm as cashmere, and can be transformed into luxurious fabrics.
At Lehvallée, we are committed to develop and work for the sustainable future of these rare fibres. We strongly believe in the exceptional quality of our fibres and the traditional knowledge of our village artisans.