Fashion & Style

How alpaca wool clothing is unique

Info Guru, Catalogs.com
Monday, January 22, 2018

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white alpaca herd
Look at all those alpacas ready to shed their winter coats for summer
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Alpaca wool is gaining popularity as a unique natural fiber alternative.

Alpaca wool is proving itself to be the wonder-wool of natural fibers. Beautiful, breathable, and practically indestructible, this is the cruelty-free natural fabric you’ve been looking for. Here’s why.

Pretty and Practical

Alpaca fibers are known to be stronger than any sheep’s wool, and can be as soft as cashmere (especially baby alpaca, which was once believed to be fit only for kings). It is hypoallergenic as it contains no lanolin, and has none of the itchy or scratchiness of traditional wool. As for visual appeal, these sweet creatures come in a wide range of natural colors from milky white to jet black (and all the glorious tans and browns in between), but their fur can also be dyed a rainbow of colors for a wide range of fashionable looks and applications. This fiber takes so well to dye that alpaca clothing has lasted hundreds of years with no visible fading.

A favorite of hikers, mountain climbers, and outdoor types, this fiber is at least three times warmer than sheep’s wool, but also exhibits superior wicking qualities to keep your skin dry in any weather. This is due to a hollow space in the core of alpaca fibers, which hold in warmth while maintaining breathability. It is wind-proof, water resistant, and even somewhat flame retardant as it is difficult to ignite. It also happens to be odor and stain resistant, and incredibly durable, even after years of wear.



Super Sustainable

Alpacas are prized by their caretakers (most of which are in South America, but there are some North American alpaca farmers now, too), and are never subjected to cruelty to improve their fur quality, like some wool-producing creatures. Alpacas live symbiotically with humans, as they have no natural defenses and are totally dependent on us for their survival. 

They are only shorn once a year, just as temperatures start to warm, so they can be cooler and more comfortable in the summer months. In return, they not only give us superior wool that must be trimmed for their health anyway, but they also are gentle grazers that can keep weeds and grasses on rotated plots of land under control while not destroying the area by not destroying the root systems of wild plants (which can lead to erosion). They have soft hooves (unlike cows, goats, and sheep) which don’t tear up the topsoil, and also tend to eat tender leaves and young grass shoots, leaving roots intact.

Alpacas are prone to few pests, so the need for chemical pesticides is practically unheard of. They are also much more efficient with their calorie and water intake than other livestock, eating and drinking only as much as they need and no more. Being well adapted to the harsh weather conditions of the Andes means that these camelids can be raised in areas where other creatures can’t, and require minimal accommodations. All of this makes for a very light carbon footprint and a very green textile for humans.

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