The Alpaca is a curious and unique creature, gentle and friendly yet strong and full of personality. This wonderful temperament is reflected in their fleece, which is soft and lightweight, while also being five times warmer than sheep’s wool. It is considered to be one of the most luxurious fabrics in the world, thanks to its elastic, hypoallergenic and smooth feel on the skin.
Alpaca fiber is strong and resilient, and has more thermal capacity than almost any other animal fiber. It is resistant to odors, tearing, pilling, staining, moisture static, and aging. It is also hypoallergenic, not itchy, durable, and elastic, characteristics that are not found in other natural fibers.
If alpaca fibers are so great, why has it taken so long to become a mainstream fabric? The alpacas are actually native to Peru, and for a long time, they preferred to live alongside the Inca tribes, where they were regularly shorn so that the Incas could benefit from their warm fleeces. In the 17th century, Spanish conquerors came to the area and slaughtered almost all of the animals while invading the country. A few alpacas fled with the Indians into the Andes, escaping extinction and remaining loyal to their tribe.
For many years alpacas were a protected industry in South America, but after the modern world discovered the special qualities of alpaca fiber, In 1983 farming for export began to grow and now the beautiful camelids can be found in many countries in the world.
Just like the llama, Vicuña, and Guanaco, the Alpaca is a member of the camel family, but unlike its easily irritated cousin, it is very rare to see an alpaca spit! They love attention and being part of a group and can live for up to 25 years, producing between three and 13lbs of fibre each year.
There are two types of alpaca – the alpaca suri and the alpaca huacayo. The suri is the rarer of the two, making up around 10% of the total alpaca population, but its fleece is shinier, softer and lighter, making it an extremely sought after and far more expensive option. Baby alpaca fibres are finer, making them slightly more luxurious; the first two shearings of each alpaca are considered to be the best.
Since alpaca fibers are shorn, there is no need to harm the animal when creating our stunning designs. Take a look at our shop to see just how gorgeous clothing made with alpaca fleece can be!