For thousands of years alpacas have been appreciated for their amazing wool, and alpaca wool is today considered one of the world's most luxurious fibres. And it's not without reason.
The alpaca fibres have a number of properties that are quite unique compared to other natural fibres. It is soft, durable, insulating, hypo-allergenic and stain-repellent. And in addition, alpaca textiles hardly fluff nor catch.
Overall, these properties make alpaca fibres very suitable for textiles. Their wool has made the alpaca known and loved all over the world.
It is actually true.
The alpaca does less damage to the environment than other animals. The properties of the alpaca fibres and the alpaca’s lifestyle mean that the alpaca and textiles made from alpaca wool are more environmentally friendly.
• It lives on water from natural sources in the mountains and therefore it does not increase water consumption as other domestic animals.
• The alpaca does not ruin the grassing areas with their claws.
• When the alpaca is eating the grass, it bites the straw opposite from other grassing animals that pulls up the grass by its roots.
• The alpaca produces more wool measures to the kilos of food it requires in comparison to other wool producing animals.
• The alpaca wool comes from nature in a large variety of colours . Textiles can therefore be produced in a variety of colours without the use of dye.
• The alpaca wool has a low level of fat, which makes the cleaning process of the fibres easier and less water consumptious. It saves energy.
• The alpaca wool is very durable and textiles of alpaca wool will last for many years.
The alpaca is an amazing animal with its nosy and sociable nature and unique fibres.
Through centuries the alpaca has had a central roll in the life of a large part of the population in Peru and partly in the surrounding countries. Both before, during and after the glory days of the Incas.
Just like the lama the alpaca is a member of the camel family and they live primarily on the level heights of the Peruvian Andes at an altitude of 3500 to 5000 meters above sea level.
The alpacas are kept as domestic animals often by poor families of Indian descent. A typical herd consists of 50 to 150 animals, but you will also find farms that have thousands of alpacas. During the day the herd is normally kept under surveillance. They are driven up in the mountains in the morning and at night they are kept in paddocks.
The alpacas are cut once a year, which results in typical 3 to 5 kilo of wool. The alpaca need the warm wool through the winter, where the temperatures can drop under minus 25 degrees. Therefore, they are cut during spring for the first time at the age of 2 to 2½. The older the animals are, the poorer the quality of the wool gets. The alpacas can live up to the age of 20. In South America the alpacas are slaughtered, when they are between 7-10 years old and the meat is eaten and the skin is used.
There are 2 types of alpaca breeds – the huacaya and the suri. The huacaya is the most known. The alpacas - which you see on the pictures – are huacayas. The wool from the huacayes are used in the Elvang collections. The suri is known for having very long fibres – often so long that they touch the ground.
There are approx. 4 million alpacas in Peru – almost 80% of the worlds total stock of alpacas. The main part of the remaining alpacas live in the surrounding countries such as Bolivia, Chile and Equador. The alpaca ist robust and thrives well outside South America. In America and in Australia they have large number of alpacas on their farms. And also in Scandinavia you find alpacas on a number of pastime farms or in the zoo.
The alpaca descends from the Vicuña. The Vicuña still lives as a wild animal in the South American Andes. The Vicuña does not thrive in captivity and it is known for having the finest and the most priceless wool in the world.