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Alpaca vs Cashmere: Which one is better?

Actualizado: 11 jun

As many call it, alpaca is the new luxury fiber that is very popular on the fashion scene, especially for handmade knitted items. It is soft, warm, trendy, and above all, ecological.

Those who are part of the fashion industry know that alpaca wool and cashmere are commonly mentioned together. And there is the dilemma between alpaca wool vs cashmere properties and benefits.


What makes the perfect sweater? For a garment to be a staple in our cold-weather wardrobe, it has to have the appropriate combination of softness, warmth, and durability and plus points will go to a piece that is water-resistant, sustainable, and has good insulation. Vying for the position of “best sweater ever” are alpaca and cashmere, two natural fibers that have become synonymous with luxurious softness. But which one is better?


Natural Alpaca Fiber


Are either of them itchy?


Wool fiber is measured in microns and the smaller the micron, the finer and softer the wool. Good quality alpaca will typically have a thickness that ranges from 18-23 micrometers, while most cashmere fibers fall at 19 micrometers. This means alpaca can be just as, or softer than cashmere.


Industrial or artisanal?


Cashmere’s high status began to change in the 1990s when the demand for cashmere wool rapidly grew, leading to mass production. As China produced in volume, the fiber’s status shifted from luxury to mainstream. In effect, prices and quality have lowered over the years. Mass production has led breeders to cross-breed, resulting in goats producing more wool, but the fiber is shorter and not as refined.


Meanwhile, there is an artisanal element in the production of alpaca. Knitting and weaving this extraordinary fiber has been a time-honored craft that has become part of Peru’s cultural heritage. And to further preserve this Peruvian tradition that provides income to thousands of families, companies work directly with local breeders to not only ensure quality but to also provide these artisans with a great opportunity to secure a sustainable future.


Good for the environment?


Cashmere fiber comes from Hircus goats, whose grazing has been depleting their natural grasslands. In fact, it is well documented that the immense popularity of cashmere has decimated many grasslands in China.

Alpacas have soft, padded feet. This means they can explore their natural habitat in the Peruvian Andes Mountains without causing damage. They can go for a stroll without destroying the root systems of the plants they consume.



You might also like: The Alpaca Industry in Peru

Puno city, between 3500 a 4500 msm. Alpaca's habitat.



Durability and Piling


Piling usually happens in fabrics with shorter hair. Cashmere fibers are four centimeters long, while alpaca fibers measure between eight to twelve centimeters. Because of this, piling happens more often in cashmere sweaters than in alpaca sweaters. And since alpaca fibers are more durable, they are also more water-resistant, long-lasting, and retain their luster.


What is better for the cold?


Cashmere sweaters will provide you with good insulation, but alpaca further elevates this mandatory sweater requirement. Alpaca wool’s construction provides a hollow core that traps a pocket of air inside it. This means the fiber can warm up quickly and stay insulated longer. It also breathes through these air pockets, effectively moderating the temperature.



At Knit-Lab Peru, we specialize in Alpaca sourcing and handcrafted and custom knitwear. Using the finest sustainable materials, we deliver high quality products worldwide. Contact us today to start creating premium knitted garments for your business.

 

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