Have you been looking at buying an alpaca fur garment and were wondering what makes alpaca fur stand out from the rest? We look at the origin of Alpaca fur and its amazing qualities.
Here, we’ll delve into what Alpaca fur has to offer and why to choose it, including:
- Origin of Alpaca Fur
- Alpaca Fleece Types
- Properties of Alpaca Fur
- Environmentally Sustainable?
- The Alpaca Industry
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Fur the Love of Alpacas (Conclusion)
Alpacas are a camelid species endemic to Peru, South America, where they were bred for use as farm animals. Alpacas were first domesticated some 3000 years ago by early South American societies.
The animals were utilized as burden animals and meat producers, as well as for their distinctive wool. Alpaca wool protects against extreme cold and has the unique ability to reduce sweating in hot weather.
In the 16th century, however, Spanish conquistadors took their sheep with them and showed no interest in the alpaca, which became the poor indigenous population’s farm animal and nearly became extinct.
The importance of alpaca was only rediscovered when the states of South America gained independence. Breeding was restarted, and the alpaca’s wool became a sought-after raw material all over the world.
There are over four million alpacas in the world today. Peru, along with western Bolivia and Chile, is home to around 80% of the entire population.
Alpaca fleece is divided into two categories. Huacaya fleece is the most common. Huacaya fiber grows and resembles sheep wool in that it makes the animal appear “fluffy.”
Suri alpacas are the second kind of alpaca. In South America, they account for less than 10% of the total population but make up 19–20% of the North American alpaca population.
Suri fiber looks and feels like natural silk, and it hangs off the animal’s body in dreadlock-like tresses.
While both fibers can be used in worsted milling with lightweight yarn or thread, you can also spin Huacaya fiber into varied weight yarns in a woolen process. It’s a smooth, soft, resilient and luxurious natural fiber.
Huacaya looks like sheep’s wool, such as merino wool, but it is a fiber more like hair. It is hollow, it’s warmer, less prickly, and doesn’t contain lanolin, making it hypoallergenic. Alpaca fiber is naturally water-repellent and fire-resistant.
The lighter colors of the fleece also take dyes well, making it helpful for designers to create bright sweater designs.
Huacaya fiber has a natural crimp, giving it an elastic yarn that is great for knitting. Suri has no crimp, making it ideal for woven items. Renowned designers have used Suri alpaca wool in high-end outfits for both men and women.
Minor alpaca producers in the United States have come together to form “fiber co-ops” to reduce the cost of producing alpaca fiber products.
The production process of alpaca is very similar to the method used for wool.
When you look at the structure of alpaca fiber, it’s easy to see why it’s so valuable: the hollow strands offer unique thermal capabilities that allow alpaca apparel to be worn in both summer and winter.
These fibers shield you from the cold, keeping you comfortable even when the temperature drops below freezing.
Alpaca wool retains the heat coming from your body, ensuring that you stay snug.
While, in summer, the fiber repels heat from the sun away from your body.
Sweat is absorbed and dispelled through the hollow fibers. That’s one of the reasons why alpaca wool socks are so exceptionally comfortable.
The molecules of alpaca wool neutralizes smells, so alpaca wool clothing does not retain body odors.
Alpaca has antistatic properties so there’s electrical discharge causing hair to stand on end. Moreover, pure alpaca fiber is non-flammable, and alpaca wool is difficult to ignite (560 degrees Celsius).
People who suffer from allergies will appreciate alpaca wool fabric. Their wool has a low-fat content, which helps to prevent bacterial cells from forming and causing infection. This helps to explain why alpaca materials are antimicrobial.
Another reason for Alpaca wool’s popularity is its inherent sheen. Even after dyeing the material, the brilliance remains.
But why dye anyway? Alpaca wool comes in a variety of hues, including white, beige, brown, and red-brown shades of grey and black, therefore dyeing is rarely necessary.
There is no other fur-producing animal that is quite as colorful as this one.
The processing of alpaca fibers into fabric does not require any harsh chemical treatments or added synthetics. To improve performance, many lightweight luxury wool clothes are blended with synthetics, such as nylon, and synthetic materials have been shown to contribute to microplastic contamination in the environment.
Additionally, the raising and grazing of alpacas has a very low environmental impact compared to sheep, which have been shown in studies by PETA to have a significant environmental impact.
The Alpaca Industry is Highly Regulated and Animal-Friendly. Killing Alpacas for their hides is neither practical nor ethical. The longer they live, the more wool can be shorn from them. The majority of alpacas die of natural causes due to the South American Andean Mountains’ rough living conditions and high altitude.
However, Alpaca meat is a delicacy in Peru; hence their hides, like cow hides, are a by-product of the demand for the alpaca’s meat.
Only humanely obtained Alpaca hides, sourced as a by-product, are used by ethical manufacturers of hide products.
How much do Alpaca fabrics cost?
Different grades cost different prices. A ball of baby “Royal” Alpaca 18 microns yarn runs to about $10, while a thicker regular Alpaca 26 microns yarn can cost from 2-6 dollars a ball. A baby alpaca woolen poncho will retail, on average, at about $120.
Is Alpaca softer than cashmere?
Cashmere is the softest of all the wools, but alpaca is also incredibly soft! Alpaca has harder, longer hairs than cashmere, so it lasts longer and is warmer.
Alpaca fur has some phenomenal qualities! It keeps you warm in the cold and cool in the heat. It’s also fire retardant, neutralizes body odors, is incredibly soft to the touch and comes in a range of natural colors.
The sustainable nature of Alpaca farming and fiber gathering also makes it a more environmentally friendly material than sheep’s wool.
If you have any comments or questions on Alpacas and their fur, why not contact us?