Alpacas may have just arrived on time. The presence of cashmere everywhere is no longer viable. Sure, it has gotten cheaper since 1990s but its quality declined.
The fashion industry is in to alpaca. Brands such as Louis Vuitton and Versace showcased the fiber in Paris and Milan.
Like cashmere, alpaca fiber looks and feels expensive and luxurious. However, it can be more durable. It is also cheaper in comparison to cashmere.
Alpacas come in more than 20 gorgeous colors from snowy white to warm chestnut to inky black. Their wool is soft, warm and lofty.
The alpaca demand is not only great news for Peru being the largest exporter and those who wear the sweaters but also great for the planet.
Cashmere is not sustainable. It is also disastrous environmentally. The grasslands in China can’t support the goats needed by stores to keep stocks of cashmere. In addition, these grasslands are turning into icy deserts.
Before 1990s, cashmere was such a luxury. Over time as the fiber grew cheaper, the demand for the soft, lightweight and colored cashmere sweaters increased exponentially. Goat herds increased with the demand.
In Mongolia, 2nd largest cashmere provider, the population of goats multiplied. Although these goats can survive the low temperatures, the harsh winters recently reduced the herds. 90% of Mongolia is at risk of turning to a dessert. Since goats are stronger than sheep, herders tend to goats as the land gets more arid. However, this adds further damage to the ecology and destroy the native grasses.
The population boom happening to cashmere goats is less likely to happen to alpacas. The animal population of Alpacas in the Peruvian Andes remains steady.
Alpacas are more efficient as compared to goats. An alpaca can grow wool for 4 to 5 sweaters per year. It takes 4 goats to produce a single cashmere sweater.
A sweater around the price of 150 to 200 dollars may be expensive but it is a great investment. Alpaca fibers are not likely to pill and are long lasting. It is better to have one durable sweater than have many replaceable ones.
In conclusion, alpacas generally make a more sustainable option for Women’s or Men’s Sweaters in comparison to cashmere goats.