Have you ever looked at the label of your wool sweater and wondered what cashmere or alpaca wool are and what the difference between the two actually is? Well, the answer is simple but quite complex at the same time. The aim of this article is to inform you about the differences between alpaca wool and cashmere. Learn more about the origin of both and their impact on the environment.
First of all, you need to know that cashmere wool is actually made of goat hair and alpaca wool is actual wool (yes, we know, this is really basic but it is good to have the facts straight). It might be difficult to distinguish cashmere from alpaca at first because they both feel similar in terms of softness and the structure of the fabric but in fact, they are very different!
Brief history of cashmere.
The earliest documented use of cashmere dates back to the 14th century. Ever since, cashmere has been widely used for the production of sweaters, scarves etc. Cashmere has been considered for many years as the most luxurious wool variety. In 1990s, China was the global leader of cashmere production and was producing massive amounts of it to satisfy the global needs. Due to the huge demand for cashmere, farmers had to compromise its quality. To keep up with the production, they had to significantly lower the quality of what once used to be a luxurious product.
Global demand for cashmere meant that the number of goats had to rise as well. In Mongolia, the second largest supplier of cashmere, the goat population rose from 5 million to 20 million between 1990 and 2009 (19 years)! This rise in the population of goats had an immense impact on the environment. Herds, which are big populations of goats, inhabited the wide-spread steppes of Mongolia, China, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey and literally ate all the grass and anything green growing on the steppe. There was not enough grass to feed all the hungry goats that had to produce cashmere for the world’s population. The goats damaged vegetation on the steppe and made the ground liable to erosion.
And what about alpaca wool?
Alpacas are South American cousins of camels and lamas (camelids), 4 millions of alpacas live in the wild in Peru, which is also the biggest population of alpacas in the world. The Incas first bred alpacas for their wool around 5000 BC. In these ancient times, alpaca fibre was used to make clothes for royals and was known as “the fibre of the gods”. The Incas considered alpaca wool to be more valuable than gold! If that is not cool, I don’t know what is. Unlike goats, which are bred on a massive scale (400 million) and have a huge impact on the environment, alpacas (6 million) live in the wild in their natural habitat and are much rarer. Moreover, keeping and weaving alpacas is a sustainable, traditional craft, which follows the fair-trade guidelines.
To sum up; alpacas live in the wild in their natural habitat in smaller numbers, while goats are bred on a massive scale. Alpaca wool is more special, sustainable, eco-friendly, animal friendly, softer, lighter and warmer than cashmere. On top of that alpaca wool is hypoallergenic (allergy-free).
Watch our video and see how alpaca lives in the Andes of Peru:
Source: Inkari - Natural Alpaca Comfort (www.inkari-alpaca.com)
Is it clear why alpacawol is such a beautiful and responsible material?
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