What is the Difference Between Alpaca and Other Natural Fibers?
Alpaca fiber has gained worldwide attention, and deservedly so, with its luxurious softness and other eco-friendly qualities. Leading brands like Alicia Adams Alpaca have played a key role in introducing a line of luxurious fashion, apparel, home interiors, and design in alpaca fiber.
With all the hype and stir this fiber has created, you're wondering what distinguishes this fiber from other natural fibers. If you wish to list the qualities that set alpaca fiber apart from other natural fibers, keep reading below.
Alpaca and other Natural Fibers- Comparison
1. Vicuna vs. Alpaca
Vicuna is more expensive and rarer than alpaca fiber. Surprisingly, it comes from a wild ancestor of alpaca, and a single hair is about 11 to 14 microns thick. It possesses a naturally stunning golden fleece, and any jacket made of this natural fiber will cost a minimum of $7000.
Moreover, vicunas are not domesticated animals; people can only shear them once every three years. Hence, you can figure out why the natural fiber, coming from the guarded herds of vicunas, is so rare. In every harvest season, you can extract about 300 grams of wispy hair per vicuna.
2. Alpaca vs. Acrylic
There are very significant differences between alpaca and acrylic fibers. To start with, acrylic is a far cheaper option, and you will find shawls, scarves, and sweaters sold on the dozen by the streets, of acrylic usually.
They're a fantastic alternative for those who cannot afford the very luxurious and costly alpaca fiber. Acrylic clothing also makes for cozy, cute, and trendy options for people who want to stay warm during the chilly seasons and are stylish.
You can quickly tell the difference between acrylic and alpaca by touching the fibers. While alpaca feels cool to the touch, acrylic feels warm on the fingertips. Since vendors are street-smart, they brush the acrylic garments till they feel smooth and soft to the touch.
But you can verify by touching the inside of the clothing article; if it feels rough, it is acrylic. Besides, acrylic fibers don't weigh as heavily as authentic alpaca products. Even if you're unable to differentiate between the feel of the two fibers, you can easily tell an acrylic product apart from alpaca through the price tags,
An alpaca sweater will not cost you less than $150 to $200, while acrylic sweaters fall within a price range of $12 to $15.
3. Suri vs. Huacaya Alpaca
Belonging to the same family, it can be challenging to distinguish the fibers of Suri vs. Huacaya alpacas. One of the most distinguishing factors between the two alpacas is that Huacaya tends to have more curly, denser, soft, and crimpy wool. Suri alpacas, on the other hand, have dreadlocks that resemble cylindrical and longer locks.
Secondly, Suri alpaca fiber is more expensive because it is rarer than Huacaya fibers, so you can tell the two apart by comparing their price points.
4. Sheep Wool vs. Alpaca
Sheep's wool is quite a heavy fiber but, comparatively, not as warm as alpaca is. Moreover, you will find alpaca a very silky and soft fiber to the touch if you compare it to sheep's wool. We can attribute the fineness characteristic of alpaca to the luxurious softness of this fiber.
Another quite intriguing difference is that although alpaca weighs much lighter than sheep's wool, it is up to seven times warmer. For many wearers, sheep's wool clothing tends to cause an itch, but alpaca garments are utterly soft and quite comfortable against the skin.
People with a refined taste for luxury and who prefer to protect their skin against sheep's wool allergies prefer alpaca fiber. Devoid of lanolin, the irritate substance, alpaca fibers remain hollow, adding to its warming properties and making for lovely wear.
Defining Qualities of Alpaca against Other Natural Fibers
Perhaps due to the similarity in textures, we tend to compare alpaca against other natural fibers. Truthfully though, there isn't much ground for comparison when one considers the noteworthy and defining qualities of alpaca.
From quality to eco-friendliness, there are numerous attributes of alpaca that other fibers cannot match against. Let’s take a look at them below.
Firstly, alpaca fiber has a premium quality that all others pale against. From cashmere to sheep's wool, no other natural fiber has remained in mainstream popularity for its unbeatable quality as alpaca has.
Those accustomed to wearing the luxurious alpaca fiber or decorating their interiors with the apparel know of its extreme warmth. Alpaca fibers can regulate and maintain insulation, which means people in the coldest regions will benefit from alpaca winter clothing.
While other natural fibers, including sheep's wool and cashmere, can keep a wearer warm, they will fall short in comfort and warmth when matched against alpaca.
When you compare alpaca with other natural fibers, you will find that it is rare and not as highly sold as the other varieties are. Perhaps the primary reason for this is that alpaca is a high-end luxury fiber and is costlier than other natural fibers. But its rarity makes alpaca apparel, clothing, home interiors, and other products so exquisite and unique.
Another endearing quality of alpaca fiber is its extended durability. The fibers do not give in to piling, which very likely damages the fabric for good. If you compare other natural fibers against alpaca, you will note that they do not retain their optimal appearance and shape for as long as alpaca does.
In contrast, you will initially find your alpaca products a significant investment, but you will enjoy good value for long, long years in return. You'll be glad to know that you will be handing down your alpaca clothing from generation to generation, with its softness and durability pretty much intact.
Alicia Adams Alpaca makes a statement and an example of the humane treatment of its alpaca herds. The brand had established a firm practice that others follow, too, of treating alpacas humanely when they shorn the animals for wool.
The brand owns a beautiful farm in Hudson Valley, New York, where it raises its herd of Suri alpacas. Even the other manufacturers of alpaca wool make it a practice to allow their alpacas to roam freely in their habitats, herding them through highly humane practices.
When the time comes for clipping the animals, the method is as painless as it can be. They do not trim the excessive wool but only clip it to meet the demands of the alpaca fiber market.
Alpaca fibers are way more eco-friendly than any other natural fibers too. Just like we discussed above, not only do the alpaca wool manufacturers use human methods, but they also obtain the fibers in a manner that promotes the renewal of the animal coats before their next shearing.
Secondly, since alpaca fiber is highly durable and lasts for generations, its demand is much lesser. People who purchase alpaca clothing and home interior products and apparel make maximum use of the luxurious articles for a longer time.
Allergies, especially of the skin, are rampant in our societies today. Wherever you go, people are looking for ways to prevent skin allergies, nose allergies, and numerous others. This is why synthetic materials are all the more popular today.
Alpaca fibers lead in this regard, too, thanks to their naturally hypoallergenic qualities. The lack of lanolin, an irritant substance present in sheep's wool, makes alpaca an ultimately comfortable and safe fiber to wear.
In terms of softness, too, alpaca remains unmatched to this day. We measure fibers in microns, and those of alpacas measure around 18 to 23 microns. Other natural fibers, such as cashmere, tend to have an average of 19 microns.
From the stats, you can figure out how refined and ultra-soft alpaca fibers must be. There is a reason why alpaca fibers are also described as royal fibers. With their distinguishable soft texture, no alpaca lover can settle for other varieties.
Naturally Resistant to Wind, Stain, and Water
Alpaca fibers are devoid of chemicals completely, yet they naturally repel water. Perhaps nature bestowed this characteristic on the animal to keep it healthy, comfortable, and happy, but it's a massive bonus for manufacturers and alpaca clothing buyers.
Alicia Adams Alpaca is the leading brand among the alpaca clothing and home apparel industry pioneers. Ever since they introduced the luxurious and ultimately-soft alpaca fibers to the world, there has been no looking back.
From outstanding durability and quality to hypoallergenic qualities, this natural material has made its place among high-end luxury materials. Considering the longevity, extreme warmth, and natural resistance to water, stains, and wind of this material, it is no wonder why alpaca clothing is among the most sought-after in one of the coldest and also highly fashionable regions of the world today.