How did you go from artist manager to fashion designer? “I grew up in Vancouver and never studied fashion. I started my career in the entertainment industry and moved back to Hong Kong, where I managed high-profile stars including actress Shu Qi. I found myself working with [fashion] industry stalwarts like Mario Testino and Vogue magazine, so fashion became part of my life.

Mandkhai founder talks luxury cashmere and why yaks could be the way forward

“Movers & Cashmere was inspired by my love for fashion and cashmere. I wear cashmere all winter but I couldn’t find pieces that were good quality yet not so traditional in terms of style. I felt there was space for a brand that took a different approach to cashmere, that reinterpreted it to meet our modern-day lifestyle. Cashmere may be a precious fabric but I don’t see why you can’t wear it to the gym or in a more casual setting.”

Was the lack of a formal fashion education a disadvantage when you started out? “You don’t know the rules, so you don’t need to play by them. I may not be a trained designer, but another advantage is that I think like a consumer – I analyse how to wear a piece and how it fits into our wardrobe or lifestyle. I do my own sketches, but we also have a good factory that works closely with us. It’s important to surround yourself with experts as they advise you when things aren’t possible technically.”

What are you bringing that’s new to an already crowded athleisure market? “We are probably the only cashmere brand that focuses on athleisure. Admittedly, our brand is not for wearing to the gym per se – it’s not technical – but we have really thought about adding sport luxe elements. For example, our sweaters feature knitted panels under the arms because it gets hot. Our wide-leg track pants have a chic rose gold zipper – you unzip them for a casual, breathable look, or zip them up for a more elegant style.”

Does cashmere limit you as a designer? “We started out not knowing how temperamental the fabric could be. The hardest part is that it’s a very delicate material, so we can’t do complicated silhouettes or too much hardware.”

How Mongolian cashmere is helping sustainable fashion

You launch capsule collections rather than follow the fashion calendar. Why? “Cashmere is timeless – you can buy it all year round and if you take good care of it, it lasts a lifetime. At the same time, people tend to buy understated pieces they can wear all the time, so if we do launch something new it has to add value. We try to launch a new series every winter and add new pieces or limited-edition styles that are unique.”