“More precious to the Inca civilisation than gold and silver, Alpaca fleece was once exclusively worn by royalty because of it’s wonderful qualities; it’s silk-like shine, length, strength and softness, to name a few.
Hardwearing but lightweight, warm, moisture wicking and of the highest quality, alpaca fleece is increasingly sought after by top fashion designers, tailors and craftspeople – particularly undyed black British-grown fibre.”
The UK alpaca industry is a fibre industry and alpacas are shorn once a year for their fleece. They produce a luxurious natural fibre in a range of colours, from white through fawns and browns to black. Unlike sheep’s wool, alpaca does not need to be dyed to make a finished product as it is already a beautiful colour and the minimum lanolin content in the fibre means alpaca garments are hypoallergenic and environmentally friendly.
There are so many great things about alpaca fibre that I don’t know where to start! It is long, strong, wonderfully soft and silky and naturally bright and shiny. As well as all this, it produces lightweight garments that are incredibly warm, wick moisture away and can be worn right next to the skin without being itchy. Environmentally and animal friendly – unlike the competition from cashmere, angora and mohair – alpaca fibre is highly sought after.
An average alpaca produces 2.4kg of fibre per annum, with some producing up to 6kg. Demand is huge, with alpaca being seen on high fashion catwalks – Kate Middleton even wore an alpaca coat on her recent visit to Canada – and only a tiny percentage of worldwide demand is being met at the moment.