Heritage of Alpaca
Once considered to be a gift from the Gods, this soft, breathable fabric is one-of-a-kind. Alpaca threads are unique as they never pull, even after being well washed and well-loved. This added benefit ensures that you’ll have a product that’ll last a lifetime. Its rarity clues the wearer in on a little-known secret that it’s an exclusive alternative to the ever-loved cashmere. Alpaca is naturally cool to the touch but will keep you up to 7x warmer than sheep’s wool. Alpaca fur is said to be softer than cashmere, warmer than wool, and lustrous than silk, making the textile a rare luxury in itself.
“Alpaca” is a Spanish word derived from the Aymara name “Allpacu”, or the Quechuan names “Pacos” or “Pacoshas”. Paintings made on cave faces more than 8000 years ago were a reference to the interaction between the ancient Peruvians and the alpacas. Early inhabitants began the domestication process of alpacas between 4000 and 5000 B.C. It is due to their ingenuity that we have been able to perfect this process in modern and sustainable practice. To more than one million small alpaca farmers in the central Andes of South America, alpacas are an important pillar of livelihood. Alpacas remain today an extremely important element of cultural identity. According to the Peruvian National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI) census in 2012, a population of 3.7 million alpacas supports these Peruvian families. Here at Suri&Huacaya, our carefully curated artisans have honed their craft over centuries of familial ties, ancestral secrets, and perfection through practice. Passed down from generation to generation, our artisans produce such fine quality wools that they would never be able to be replicated in a traditional factory. We work to utilize and respect such a noble fabric, and the time-honored practice made possible by the hands that weave it.
The Origins of Alpaca Wool
For centuries alpacas have been sheared and maintained for their pristine wool coat. Every 12 to 18 months they are harmlessly trimmed, and we are blessed with the result. Alpaca wool is dense enough to be soft and fine enough to never irritate the skin. Unlike other wools that itch and constrict, alpaca wool glides over the skin with a smooth, soothing caress. The fibers offer the enviable juxtaposition of durability and softness. Our textiles offer substantial durability for winter coats while remaining light enough to construct a featherweight scarf.
The fineness of the alpaca fiber ranges from 15 microns to 35 microns, which makes it possible to produce everything from extremely fine and light products to thick blankets with superior thermal performance.
The physical characteristics of alpaca fiber, such as its range of colors, structure, and resistance, make it possible to create garments of exceptionally fine quality, luster, and drape, properties difficult to replicate using any other textile fiber. In addition, the strength, density, and curvature of the alpaca fiber make alpaca garments very resistant to wear and tear.
The physical characteristics of alpaca fiber allow the manufacturing of products with superior performance in extreme climates, in both cold as well as warm weather. Moreover, alpaca fiber is more flame resistant than vegetable or synthetic fibers. In case of fire, alpaca does not melt onto the skin as synthetics fibers do.
The more rare type of alpaca, Suri has a pencil fiber fur that hangs down. Silky to the touch, these alpacas are sheared every two years. Having been compared to fine cashmere, Suri alpacas’ fibers take luxury to a new level and are truly a thing of rare beauty every time they are spun into new garments.
The exquisite fleece of the Suri products is used for maximum comfort. Suri alpacas comprise only 5% of alpacas worldwide, so their fur is used in only the most lavish products and blends.
The most common type of alpaca, Huacaya has fur that is full and puffy, almost giving these animals the appearance of a teddy bear. Their fur is soft and cool to the touch, but still warm when used for clothing. Known for centuries as having the “fiber of the gods”, they are sheared once a year.
Alpaca fiber is known for its softness and is often compared to cashmere. It has a silky luster, so it is even more coveted. It is as warm as sheep wool, yet only a third of the weight.