Alpacas are one of the most beautiful South American camelids. Related to Llamas, Guanacos and Vicuñas, Alpacas have been valued for their fibre since pre-Inca times due to the properties and quality of their hair. There are mainly two types of alpacas: Huacaya and Suri.
The Alpaca's Habitat
Alpacas are native to the Peruvian Andes, where they have been domesticated since the time of the pre-Incan cultures. There are an estimated 3.5 to 4 million Alpacas in South America; 90% of these are found mainly in the southern regions of Peru.
Alpacas are raised at altitudes ranging from 3,500 to more than 4,500 metres above sea level, where they can naturally withstand temperatures ranging from -20 °C to 30° in a single day, surviving on a special low-protein diet based on natural grasses that is low-impact on the environment.
The Alpaca Fibre
Alpaca fibre is considered one of the most luxurious in the textile market. It is appreciated by vendors, designers and customers alike because of its unique attributes:
- It is three times stronger than sheep fibre and seven times warmer.
- It has excellent insulating and thermal qualities by having microscopic air pockets, which makes it lighter but still insulating.
- It’s very lightweight, ranging from 12 to 28 microns.
- It has a silky shine that remains despite production, dyeing or washing.
- It does not contain fat, oil or lanolin.
- It does not retain water and can resist solar radiation.
- It is resistant, achieving very durable, easy-care garments, making it a durable and affordable item for us, and allows us to take greater care of our environment.
- It has more than 22 natural colours.
Why Peruvian Alpaca fibre?
For us at Inka Fabric, it's simple, the qualities of alpaca from Peru are superior, why? Peruvian alpacas live free in the Andes at more than 3500 metres above sea level, so their fibre is stronger and retains intact all the properties that make alpaca fibre unique.
In addition, alpaca breeding in Peru has been a tradition since pre-Incan times, and they remain domesticated and prized animals. Alpacas are never harmed nor killed for their fibre.
Nowadays the economy of many families in the Peruvian altiplano is based on the breeding of alpacas and their relatively recent commercialisation. As a result, Peru with the help of some responsible companies, has become a specialist in the production of alpaca fibre being recognised worldwide for its unique and high-quality yarn.
What Is Baby Alpaca Fibre?
Baby Alpaca is an exceptionally fine, incredibly soft, lightweight, durable, hypoallergenic fibre which comes from the back of the alpaca, the only part that does not get contaminated by dirt (grass, soil etc). Alpaca are gently shorn by hand and only once a year during the warmer season. Baby alpaca does not come from newborns – they need their warm coats - baby alpaca is the name given to the grading of how fine the fibre is (21.5micron).
Baby Alpaca is up to seven times warmer than the common sheep’s wool because the single fibre works as thermal insulation. It is cosy but also breathable for warmer weather thanks to the air pockets that are only found in alpaca fibres.