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Alpaca Wool

A luxuriously fine fiber that rivals cashmere in silky softness, alpaca creates amazingly cozy textiles for a wide range of conditions. Alpaca is mainly produced on family farms in Peru, in small quantities that are tiny compared to other wools. In this FAQ, we shed some light on this unique and rare fiber, and why it’s such an important part of the Nau fabric lineup.

What is alpaca?

Alpaca fiber, also commonly known as alpaca fleece, is a naturally soft and silky fiber harvested from domesticated alpaca. Native to South America, alpaca are smaller relatives of llamas, adapted to survive at high elevations: they generally graze above 11,000 ft. year-round. To thrive in such conditions, alpaca evolved a coat with a unique, hollow-core fiber that’s both warmer and lighter than other wools.

How is alpaca fiber different from sheep’s wool?

While similar to sheep’s wool, alpaca differs in significant ways. In addition to its warmer hollow-core structure, alpaca fleece does not have lanolin, the natural wax secreted by most wool-bearing animals. This results in a hypoallergenic fiber that is odor-resistant, even when wet.

Why choose alpaca?

Alpaca’s unique properties make it an ideal fiber for creating incredibly lightweight and surprisingly warm insulation layers. Natural, renewable, durable and pill-resistant, it keeps you warm and dry in a wide range of conditions. Also, because alpaca are raised largely by small family farmers outside of the commodity wool market, it provides a healthy livelihood in the communities where it’s produced.

Where is Nau’s alpaca sourced?

Our alpaca fiber is sourced in Peru, collected from traditional, small farm groups.

What is the environmental impact of alpaca farming?

Because alpaca are raised outside industrial farming systems by small farmer collectives and at high elevations in Peru, alpaca are given more space to graze, resulting in a lower environmental impact compared to desertification associated with the cashmere industry. Alpaca farmers also like to say that the smaller hooves of their animals leave a smaller footprint.

How do you audit the production of alpaca?

Because alpaca is produced by traditional methods, and in such small quantities, by family farms, we do not currently audit or certify alpaca fiber.

How do I care for alpaca?

Alpaca should be washed and dried with care. It should be hand washed in cold water with natural soaps and laid flat to dry.

Shop the Alpaca Wool Collection here.