Alpaca fleece is one of the world's finest and most luxurious natural fibers. On the microscopic level, alpaca fleece has a smooth exterior surface, which is why it's as soft as silk. Alpaca features a unique hollow core, which allows it to wick moisture and provide up to 30% greater insulation than Merino wool in either hot or cold conditions, allowing for total thermal regulation even when wet!
THE HISTORY OF ALPACA FIBER
Alpacas have had a turbulent history. The alpaca, prized for almost 5000 years as a source of high quality fiber, were treasured by the ancient Incas and their fine fleeces were reserved for only Incan royalty. After the Spanish conquest of the Incas, alpacas were seen by the Spaniards as a competitor for grazing lands available to their sheep and were slaughtered almost to the point of extinction.
The surviving Incans were driven into exile, taking their most prized alpacas with them into the Andes Mountains. The alpaca population survived due to their great importance to their people, and their ability to tolerate extraordinarily harsh climatic conditions.
It wasn’t until the mid 1800s that the beauty and resilience of alpaca fleece was ‘rediscovered’. Finally, in 1984, the United States and Canada imported their first alpacas, followed by Australia and New Zealand in 1989.
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF ALPACA FIBER
- Hypoallergenic: Alpaca is free of lanolin, which is a natural wax secreted by some wool-producing animals which people can be allergic to, and thus can be processed without the need for high temperatures or harsh chemicals in washing.
- Soft: Alpaca fiber has a soft, silky feel, and while it is warm like sheep wool, it does not have the same potentially itchy nature. This is because the alpaca’s fiber is naturally softer to the touch because it is several microns smaller in diameter, similar to merino wool, giving it its silky characteristic.
- Moisture Wicking: Alpaca is resistant to external water penetrations like wool, but can slowly wick away perspiration because of its unique ability to act like cotton when regaining moisture.
- Thermal Regulating: Alpaca's superior insulation is cool in warm weather and warm in cool weather helping to regulate body temperature, regardless of the weather conditions.
- Flame Resistant: Alpaca fiber is flame resistant, meeting the standards of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission's rigid testing specifications as a Class-1 fiber for use in clothing.
WANT TO TRY IT OUT FOR YOURSELF?
Investing in an alpaca piece that holds so much history is something not only fashionable but also carries heritage. Altera Alpaca has a wide selection of high performance alpaca wear so even you can feel like royalty. Check it out for yourself by clicking here.