What are alpacas?
Alpacas are originating from west-central South-America. They are camelid species related to the Lamas. However, the alpacas are fluffier and smaller than the lamas.
We can find two types of Alpaca species: Huacaya Alpaca and the Suri Alpaca.
The alpacas are mostly known for their wool as they are producing some all year round and in a constant quality. The shearing happens from November until April and each alpaca produce around 3,5kg of wool. We can find 3 types of alpaca wool of different qualities.
Firstly, the Alpaca fleece which is gain during the annually shearing, and mostly use for jackets.
Secondly, the Baby Alpaca, which comes out the all first clip of the alpaca. Which is one of the finest and softest fleeces of all. In contrary to what the name can let us think; it is not made on babies.
Thirdly, the Royal Alpaca, which is carefully chosen out of the best baby alpaca’s fibre. They only represent 1% of the worldwide production.
What about the natural fibre of the alpaca?
Firstly, the warmth of the fibre. The alpaca keeps your body protected as well from the warmth than from the cold. The alpaca fibre keeps the warmth of your body to maintain it at a certain temperature as it does for the animal.
Secondly, the comfort. As it is a natural fibre, it is able to let your body breath and doesn’t keep all the humidity. Moreover, they have a 30% absorption capacity which means that when there is transpiration, it doesn’t seem wet and stays dry.
Thirdly, the softness. It is as soft as cashmere and doesn’t damage the skins, even the most sensitive ones.
Fourthly, the hypo-allergenic. The alpaca doesn’t have lanoline which is responsible for many of the intolerance to the animal fibres. It doesn’t have it as the fibre doesn’t need it; indeed, the fibre is auto water-resistant.
Fifthly, the fibre is so light in weight and natural. As the fibre is made of microscopic air pocket the fibre is light and has is thermal quality. Also, the fibre is compostable and biodegradable. Finally, the fibre comes naturally out in 22 colours, which avoid the dying for most of the colours.
What about the uses?
The alpaca fibre is most commonly used for making clothes (hats, scarves, gloves, sweaters, …) but we can also use it for toys.
Cuemars has now an incredibly beautiful range of 100% baby alpaca scarves and blankets from So Cosy. They are made from 100% Peruvian baby alpaca fibres, woven and hand finished in the highlands of the Andes.
Why is it better to buy alpaca over cashmere?
Unlike the alpaca, the cashmere isn’t sustainable anymore, thanks to the increase of the demand which has lead it to grow cheaper and cheaper. Indeed, the goatherds have exploded which means that nowadays there is way too much goat in Mongolia and China. The lands are becoming more arid and they obviously destroy the ecology.
The environmental footprint of an alpaca is lighter than a cashmere goat. The alpacas are living in the Peruvian Andes which is a less fragile ecosystem than Mongolia or China. Moreover, the alpacas are more efficient than goat: when you need an alpaca to make four or five sweaters a year, you’ll need a goat for a sweater per year.
Then, as the cashmere is constantly declining, the fiber is becoming shorter and coarser. Consequently, the products are less soft and pill more easily.
To sum up, contrasted to cashmere, alpaca is a more stylish and sustainable fiber. It is one of the softest, warmest and most comfortable fiber worldwide. Furthermore, it is hypo-allergenic and 100% natural.