If you’re having a bad day, Google alpacas. They are adorable: they look like pocket-sized fluffy camels. Traditionally hailing from South America, today alpaca can be found being raised in some unlikely locations, the UK being one of them.
From the Yorkshire moors to the Dorset coast, herds of alpaca are increasingly easy to spot, and with good reason. Not only are these little animals cute, their wool, which traditionally is only shorn off once a year, is the fibre of choice for a growing number of luxury brands.
Cashmere has long been associated with luxury, but alpaca boasts qualities which can trump even its better-known cousin. Stronger than mohair and second in strength only to silk, alpaca fibre is almost indestructible – finely woven alpaca has recently been discovered in amazing condition in Peruvian ruins dating back 2,500 years. In particular, Royal Alpaca yarn is considered smoother, softer, stronger and warmer than cashmere, and just as exclusive: less than 1% of all alpaca fibre production in the world can be classified as Royal Alpaca.
Alpacas themselves are as easy on the environment as their fleece is to wear. Sheep and goat fibres contain allergy-inducing lanolin, which need harsh chemicals to strip this greasy substance out in the production process. Alpaca fleece is lanolin-free. And unlike their hooved counterparts, alpacas are light on their feet. They have padded feet and when grazing, merely ‘’cut’’ the grass, causing much less damage to fragile eco-systems.
One British brand has been making the most of most of alpaca’s warmth-giving properties. Plum of London started life four years ago and has since grown to become a force to be reckoned with in the British luxury knitwear market.
Sourcing only sustainable Peruvian and English alpaca, Plum has committed to making its entire range in the UK. Not only does this lower the carbon footprint of its products, it ensures it can collaborate closely with English and Scottish mills, known to be some of the finest in the world. Plum exclusively works with mills that work with full transparency, ensuring the alpaca they source is produced ethically. This commitment to fair codes of conduct has earnt Plum Positive Luxury’s coveted Butterfly Mark, highlighting the business as a luxury brand to trust.
Plum of London is busy expanding its range of alpaca products, ranging from chic, heavy sofa throws to soft scarves spun in stripes. With winter fast approaching, finding cosy-with-a conscience, beautifully warming products has never been easier…