Alpaca wool has become popular in recent years. We are starting to see that alpaca products are being offered by many big brands, several independent designers, and small retailers.
Alpaca, however, is much less known than wool and cashmere to many. Some people prefer not to buy alpaca products, because they have heard some myths about alpaca that make it very undesirable.
In this post, I want to tackle 3 of these myths about alpaca wool or fleece that may help bring out the truth about them, so that you, as a customer, are better informed about alpaca and its benefits. Hopefully, this will help you make educated decisions about your purchases, especially now that the cooler months are ahead of us and you may be considering buying a few sweaters for you and your family.
Myth #1: Alpaca is Itchy and Scratchy
I will start talking about this myth with a story. While my husband was visiting Bolivia, he bought an “alpaca sweater” in the tourist area of La Paz. The sweater actually looks nice, but he never wears it. So, one day, I decided to try it on myself and see if I could use it for winter.
I couldn’t wear that sweater for more than 2 minutes!! It was the scratchiest sweater I’ve ever worn. No wonder he never wears it! What happened here? Well, he bought a sweater made with very low-quality alpaca and who knows what else in it.
Even though the label on the sweater said “100% alpaca”, this sweater didn’t come from a recognized store or brand and its price was very “convenient”. Unfortunately, many local producers in Peru and Bolivia claim on their labels that their products are made with “100% alpaca” or “baby alpaca”, but this is not true.
For those who know about alpaca, it is well known that good quality alpaca fiber is more expensive than wool and that it’s very unlikely you will buy a good quality sweater for a low price. The “convenient price” of his sweater should have been a red flag for my husband.
As with everything, alpaca comes in different qualities. If you buy a good quality alpaca sweater, such as a baby alpaca or royal alpaca sweater, it should be soft to the touch and its price will reflect this. On the other hand, if you buy a sweater made with low quality fiber, it will definitely be hard to wear due to its itchiness and it will have a lower price.
Myth’s truth: Good quality alpaca is soft, warm, and more expensive that wool sweaters. Low quality alpaca wool will feel itchy and scratchy and will be on the cheaper side. If you touch a garment and it feels itchy, it was probably made with low quality alpaca.
Myth #2: I can’t wear alpaca, because I am allergic to wool
Most people that are allergic to wool are actually allergic to an oil present in wool, called lanolin. Alpaca doesn’t have any lanolin. Because of this, many people allergic to wool can actually wear alpaca without getting any kind of reaction to the material.
This is the main reason why alpaca is classified as hypoallergenic and sheep’s wool is not.
My personal suggestion is that, if you are allergic to wool, you should try an alpaca garment for a few minutes first. If you still get a reaction to the material, it is better not to wear it.
Otherwise, try it for a longer period of time, like 30 minutes, and see how you feel. In my experience of selling alpaca directly to the consumer, most people that are allergic to wool will be able to wear alpaca garments without getting a reaction. Some, however, will also get a reaction to alpaca, as they do to wool, because they have very sensitive skin.
Myth’s truth: Alpaca is considered to be hypoallergenic. Most people that are allergic to wool will be able to wear alpaca without getting a reaction. A few others, however, have very sensitive skin and they also get a reaction to alpaca, as they do to wool. If you are allergic to wool, try alpaca for a short period of time first and see if you get a reaction. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Myth #3: Alpacas are harmed to obtain their fleece
Some people believe that alpacas are killed to obtain their fleece or wool. Some others believe that baby alpaca is obtained from baby alpaca animals. Both statements are not true.
Alpacas are not killed for their wool. Alpaca fleece or wool is obtained by shearing healthy adult animals. If you are interested in getting more information about how this is done, read our post on this topic.
Also, baby alpaca doesn’t come from alpaca babies. “Baby Alpaca” is a term used to refer to the fine fiber that is obtained from the bellies of adult animals. This is one of the most commercially sought-after alpaca wool qualities, because it is soft to the touch and great to make sweaters.
Myth’s truth: Alpacas are not killed or harmed to obtain their wool or fleece. Alpaca fiber is obtained by shearing healthy adult animals. And baby alpaca doesn’t come alpaca babies, it comes from the belly of adult animals.
I hope that by reading the truths about these 3 myths will clear things out for you. Especially, now that we are facing the cooler months of the year. After all, an educated buyer makes smart purchases.
There are other myths about alpaca wool and alpaca products, but these 3 are the most frequently asked about. If you have any questions or doubts about alpaca wool, please, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you and to help you clear any doubts our questions you may have.