Last year, 28-year-old Matt Scanlan carried $2 million in cash, packed into flimsy plastic grocery bags, into the Gobi Desert. He had transferred the money to a bank in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, but when he arrived after flying 20 hours from New York, he discovered that no single bank would give him all the money at once.
“While brands like Everlane and Warby Parker are cutting out the retailer markup, we’re going all the way down to the raw material level to remove markups,” Scanlan says.
The worldwide cashmere industry has been booming, as cashmere sweaters and accessories have become popular in the U.S. and Europe. And yet Mongolian herders who produce some of the highest-quality cashmere fibers in the world haven’t benefited from this trend.