Over 7,000 years ago the South American people domesticated and bred alpacas to produce fine, soft and warm fiber. Of all the animal fibers, only de-haired cashmere, around 14-16 microns, is finer than alpaca which comes in at around 16-26 microns. In comparison, human hair is about 100 microns thick.
Light weight warmth Alpaca is warmer by weight than most sheep's wools because each hair contains microscopic air pockets which insulate the garment; holding heat in and cold out. With the exception of mohair, alpacas produce the strongest animal fiber in the world and unlike other fibers its unique strength does not diminish as it becomes finer.
Traditionally, alpacas have been raised at high altitudes in the freezing- cold, consequently they have developed a high thermal capacity in their fiber. The fiber contains microscopic air pockets which create light weight garments with high insulation values.
Unlike sheep, alpacas do not produce lanolin but a substance called suint. This substance has a soap like quality which contributes to the fleece's water repellent properties. The suint has a waxy coating which protects and seals the individual hairs. This protective coating is not removed by processing so it continues to protect the fiber even after it is made into garments. Suint repels dust/water and even is somewhat stain resistant. Flame resistant Animal fibers are more resistant to flame than most plant based or synthetic fibers.
Long Staple length Alpaca fibers have a longer length – generally 3 to 6 inches each year - which makes for a smoother, dressier yarn with better drape and flexibility. Lustrous the long smooth scaled alpaca fiber is naturally shiny and lustrous, reflecting light brightly comparable to silk.
Hypo Allergenic Alpaca fiber does not have lanolin which is what induces an allergic reaction in some people to sheep's wool. Silky soft feeling The longer smoother scales on alpaca fibers are less prickly feeling than all but the finest wools. Alpaca does not irritate sensitive skin.
Natural colors Alpaca comes in a broader array of natural colors than any other animal fiber for undyed natural fashions. Alpaca fiber also takes dye beautifully for an unlimited range of colors.
High tensile strength in spite of each individual hair being so fine; when alpaca fibers are twisted (spun) the result is highly resistant to breakage. The Incas of Peru spanned impassable canyons in the Andes by building incredible suspension bridges without the use of metal or concrete. Instead they built the bridges out of fiber cables that were braided from reeds or cotton and llama or alpaca wool. These bridges were in use hundreds of years before the Spanish arrived in the 1500's.
Durable, although any natural fiber will degrade when exposed to the environment, garments made from alpaca fiber will last many years when properly cleaned, stored and cared for. The ancient weavings of the Inca people have survived thousands of years even to this day.
Sustainable farm products Alpacas are gentle on the planet with their efficient digestive system, community dung piles and soft padded feet. Alpaca fiber is "harvested" gently by shearing the alpaca which is then free to eat and sleep in peace to grow a new coat for the next year.
Environmentally friendly processing Alpaca fibers are easier to clean than sheep’s wool because it doesn't have greasy lanolin which has to be removed in the scouring (washing) processing step.
Spinners say that alpaca spins like butter. Mountain climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts are wearing alpaca socks on their feet... testifying that alpaca is warm and insulating yet wicks away moisture. Alpaca fiber is strong - yet soft as a whisper for next to skin wear, lightweight – yet long-lasting and durable for rugged outerwear.