Alpaca wool is one of the most exclusive fibres in the world and is truly rare. There are only 6 million alpacas worldwide compared to the nearly 50 million cashmere goats or 1.500 million sheep. For the Inca civilisation, alpaca had a higher value than both silver and gold.
The alpaca is a precious camelid, and believed to have been cross-bred between llamas and vicuñas about 6000 years ago. Its beautiful fibers were treasured by the ancient Andean civilisation, who reserved alpaca for Incan royalty. Alpaca is native to the Andes mountains of Peru, Bolivia and Chile.
One thousand years before the Roman Empire even existed, there was a thriving economy on selective breeding and production of the finest alpacas. The value of the finest alpaca yarn superseded that of silver and gold. When the Spanish conquered the Incas in 1528, the value of alpaca changed. The Spanish saw the alpaca as competitors to their sheep for grazing lands and slaughtered alpacas until their near extinction. They also used alpaca as a source of meat. The few surviving Incas hid in the highest parts of the Andes mountains and managed to bring their most valuable alpacas with them into exile. It was only because of their great importance to the Incas, and their ability to survive the harsh mountain climate that this incredible animal survived.
It took a few hundred years before the alpaca regained recognition for its luxurious qualities and experienced a resurgence in the use of its fibers.
Today, alpacas are still concentrated in the Altiplano, high up in the Andes. Here, the animals live through burning sun in the day and freezing conditions at night. Their lifestyle is made possible due to the extremely thermostatic quality of their fur. With just a thin layer of the fine wool, alpaca garments will keep you incredibly warm when it's cold, and release heat when you are hot.
The first Carcel collection is produced in the finest Peruvian alpaca wool. We acknowledge its great properties and to turn these into a range of styles for women and men. We will focus on using 100% baby alpaca. This is the wool acquired from the first shearing of a one-year-old alpaca and it is more specifically the wool placed on the underbelly and neck of the animal. Choosing alpaca garments will give you a more exclusive and luxurious wool that also supports ancient traditions and livelihoods.
Curious about why alpacas are so fantastic? Read our blog Alpaca has Superpowers.