Or as the Incas called it, “Fiber of the Gods”. And only the royalty were allowed to clothe themselves in it.
Today we can scientifically confirm what the Incas knew instinctively—that alpaca fiber is soft, light, warm and durable. More so than wool.
What makes alpaca so soft is that each individual fiber has fewer microscopic barbs compared to other animal fibers. You won’t get that prickly feeling you get from wearing wool. And unlike wool, alpaca can be worn directly against the skin. It’s even considered softer than cashmere.
If softness wasn’t enough to make you start craving alpaca clothing, it’s only the beginning of its many wonders. Because of its hollow fibers that trap air it’s an excellent insulator. Wool can’t do this nearly as well. And Alpaca is also very nearly water-repellent. Studies have found that it’s all but impossible to saturate which makes it an excellent wicking material. Socks made from alpaca keep your feet warm without making them sweaty. And lastly, it’s strong, hard-working and easy to care for. Alpaca has a higher tensile strength than wool and won’t be as prone to felting when washed.
If you prefer your fiber au natural, or absent of dyes (no fuscia or puce for you!), these color-accommodating animals sport a spectrum of 22 beautiful shades. Their colors range from white to black with shades of brown, gray and maroon in between. They can even be blended and heathered into an infinite array of natural combinations.
Lastly, alpaca fiber contains virtually no lanolin, a fatty substance found naturally and plentifully in wool. Lanolin has to be scrubbed out of sheared wool, usually with chemicals harmful to the environment. The absence of lanolin makes alpaca hypoallergenic, so for those of with wool allergies, alpaca is a superior alternative.
So incredible beauty and outstanding function go hand in hand when it comes to clothing made from alpaca. Just like the animals themselves.