Alpaca fleece has been used for thousands of years in Peru where it is known as the "Fibre of the Gods" because it was used to make clothing for royalty. The first imports were to Spain and then Germany and France. Throughout the 1800s in England, attempts to use alpaca failed and the fibre never quite caught on until Sir Thomas Salt combined alpaca weft with cotton warps around 1836. Demand rose for the soft fibres and they continue to be used throughout the world today. Alpaca fleece can be spun into light or heavy weights, making it ideal for many situations. Huacaya alpaca grow soft spongy fibre with natural crimp and elasticity, making it well-suited for knitting. Suri alpaca fleece has no crimp and is thus better for woven goods. The fleece is processed like sheep's wool but contains no lanolin, making it hypoallergenic. It's also naturally water repellant and difficult to ignite. Alpaca has recently become popular because it is being advertised as (and fortunately is) more sustainable than cashmere.
Beijing based Neemic is strengthening environmental awareness in China through elegant womenswear. Following independent research into the farming practices in rural China, Hans Martin Galliker partnered with designer Amihan Zemp to create a platform for change through fashion. Neemic emphasizes sustainability from working conditions to materials. Pieces are made with raw material left over from the luxury fashion industry plus thirty percent organic materials, including alpaca. The Natan Alpaca Coat is constructed from silk and alpaca and made in Beijing.
When buying alpaca, look for 100% alpaca or blends with other natural fibres like cotton or wool. Also look for handwoven garments. I did my best to find 100% alpaca options because I know I don't want my natural alpaca junked up with manmade nylon or acrylic. Faire Collection carries handmade alpaca hats and scarves. Reformation has a new line of alpaca sweaters. And conscious clothing site Nomadista carries 100% alpaca sweaters like the first two below. Use code THENOTEPASSER to get 15% off your entire order on Nomadista! Valid through December 2nd.
Eileen Fisher, a wonderfully sustainable brand, carries many options made from alpaca, including sweaters and coats. Maiyet, Edun, and Eugenia Kim also carry several 100% alpaca garments to choose from.
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