The alpaca fiber has been used for hundreds of years. During the inca empire, only the royalty could use alpaca fabrics and was seen as a blessing from the Peruvian inca gods.
In recent years, alpaca products has started to become more notorious in the fashion world and of course we’ve seen it become more popular in the knitting world. This luxurious fiber is being used by global brands and famous designers as an alternative for cashmere.
Why is this happening? We will list the reasons below:
- After Mongolia’s cashmere industry privatized in 1990, breeders began crossbreeding their herds and focusing on quantity over quality. So goats produced more cashmere by weight, but the fiber became shorter and coarser. The result? A sweater that’s less soft, and more likely to peel. (And what’s the point of buying a fancy sweater if it’s going to look and feel cheap?)
- Cashmere is environmentally catastrophic. Grasslands in China can’t support the hungry goats required to keep stores stocked with piles of cashmere, and they’re turning into icy deserts.
- In Mongolia the goat population quadrupled from 5 million to 20 million between 1990 and 2009. The majority of those goats reside in the steppe, high plains that are susceptible to extreme cold. Although those low temperatures help goats to grow the soft down we know as cashmere, unusually harsh winters in recent years have decimated the herds. In the winter of 2009-2010, one of Mongolia’s worst in the last 30 years, nearly a fifth of the country goats livestock died. Alpacas population is not growing
- The goat’s sharp hooves destroy topsoil and grasses and they nibble plants close to their roots, destroying the native grasses. It’s a vicious cycle. On the other part, alpacas don’t damage the pasture when grazing and they don’t have an impact on the landscape when walking thanks to their light feet.
- Alpacas are also more efficient than goats. An alpaca drinks less water than a goat and can handily grow enough wool for four or five sweaters in a year. It takes four goats the same amount of time to produce sufficient cashmere for a single sweater, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
There’s even more facts about why the alpaca is better than cashmere. People is getting more concerned about climate change and alpaca is the perfect sustainable option. Unlike cheap cashmere, alpaca fiber is stylish, durable and substantial. Sustainable is the ultimate luxury.