The function of the alpaca is for its fiber. It is a beautiful, sweet, docile animal, but it has been bred to create high quality fleece. It has never been a beast of burden like the llama – no packing or guarding for this camelid. It is not yet a meat animal in the U.S., like it is in Peru, Bolivia and Chile with approximately 9 million alpacas combined. Here, it is worth more alive for its fleece than for the meat.
The Inca Indians originally bred this animal for their prized fleece, where kings and queens were the only ones allowed to wear the garments. Now, everyone has access to this great fiber. Europeans have been utilizing alpaca clothing for centuries. While alpaca wool has always been known as a desirable fiber in South America, the United States and Australia are beginning to “discover” this material.
Today, we get to create incredible clothing – socks, scarves, sweaters. But some of our best selling products are our hats. With so many fabulous knitters working with us, all the hats are unique, one of a kind styles and designs. However, we have been able to launch into the commercial level market with our newest creation – our Extreme Outdoor Sporting Hat. Though its not as if we have reinvented the wheel or suddenly realized covering your head keeps you warm, but the fact that we are able to create a felted hat our of alpaca fiber with a windstop fleece liner. You no longer have to have a giant babushka hat or excessive fur hat to keep you warm. This winter hat is relatively thin, comfortable and custom fit – and keeps you warm down to -30 F. Now I will admit, it has an Elmer Fud stylistic flair to some of them – but this is because the flaps cover your ears and flip down brim shades your eyes.
The ladies style with the ribbon and colorful lining is a little more fashion friendly.
My point is that alpaca has helped to change the clothing industry through comfort, function and – perhaps – a little fashion.