CHOOSE ALPACA OVER CASHMERE: THE ULTIMATE IN COMFORT!
Cashmere V Alpaca? There’s no debate. Choose the modern, sustainable, cruelty-free alpaca every time. Here’s why…
When we think of a super soft, luxury ‘investment’ blanket, wrap, scarf or pair of bed socks, it’s easy to think of cashmere as the ultimate choice. Well here’s a little info on alpaca, which has become our JOGB main choice of ethical, sustainable yarn for our comfort lifestyle accessories.
Cashmere V Alpaca
Fact is, the cashmere we mainly buy today is NOT sustainable* (over-farming has destroyed the land in Mongolia): it’s been cheapened, mass-produced, and pills the moment you wear it (a sign of poor quality cashmere - just think how any classic, vintage cashmere piece, created pre-1990s, always wash beautifully and never bobble up. Not to mention the sheer volume means that goats are shorn not once but multiple times (often harshly for sheer speed of mass production), leaving them cold out of season and prone to an early death.
Alpaca - the ultimate, sustainable, cruelty-free option to cashmere - is a beautiful, naturally hypoallergenic yarn (no lanolin) that looks and feels luxurious next to the skin, and is deemed more durable than cashmere while being derived from animals that live for decades and are revered by their homeland (Peru).
What is it about Alpacas?
As the South American cousin of the lama and camel (camelids), alpacas live wild in Peru (and a farm in the Lake District too where our handknitted socks come from). “The Incas first bred alpacas for their wool around 5000 BC,” says inkari-alpaca. “In these ancient times, alpaca yarn was known as ‘the fibre of the Gods’ and used to make clothes for royals. The Incas considered alpaca wool to be more valuable than gold!” Unlike goats, which are bred on a massive scale to meet our demand and have had a huge impact on the environment, alpacas (6 million) live in the wild in their natural habitat and are much rarer.” In addition, alpacas are very friendly, live a long life, and hence deemed a huge investment by their farmers, so are looked after, often like a member of the family. “Keeping and weaving alpacas is a sustainable, traditional craft, which follows the fair-trade guidelines: they 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.”
Did You Know
90% of Mongolia has become an arid desert, now unsuitable for many endangered species such as the snow leopard and Tibetan antelope, partly thanks to the over-grazing, native grass stripping and contributing to climate change of huge goat herds (replacing sheep) that are mass-reared for cashmere, yet die young and in harsh conditions simply due to the increased demand for cheap cashmere has grown exponentially in the past 20 years alone.
Alpacas mainly live in the Peruvian Andes where their soft, padded feet are gentle on the terrain (unlike goats hooves) and they graze without destroying vital eco root systems.
Alpaca makes it easy to quit cashmere. As cashmere’s quality has declined due to crossbreeding to manage quantity over quality (much like the food we eat and the candles e burn). Goat yarn has become shorter and coarser resulting in a sweater that’s cheaper - but less soft, and more likely to bobble and pill: why ‘invest in it in name only if it’s going to look and feel cheap within one wear? With alpaca, experts hand-sort the wool by staple length and diameter, including downy-soft baby alpaca (finest of under-hairs and NOT actually shorn from a baby alpaca!)
Alpaca is rarer than cashmere There are an estimated 4 million alpacas worldwide. Compare this with around 450 million cashmere goats.
Alpacas live a long life of around 20 years, grazing in the wild, mainly in the Andes of Peru, while cashmere goats are bred in countries such as Mongolia and China, and on a massive scale.
Knowing that alpaca is not only superior to today’s cashmere culture, the fact that it’s also considered to be sustainable makes it the ultimate modern luxurious AND ethical choice. To date, there is no 'cheap' alpaca.
At JOGB we’ll never sell or make anything we don’t adore and use ourselves at home. Modern living has to be about quality NOT quantity - from candles to comfort. For our first foray into our comfort accessories, we sourced alpaca fibre for wraps and throws, from Peruvian farmers and a dear little small-holding in Keswick, Cumbria. Our lounge socks (OK, they’re bed socks but are just so gorgeous we wear them around the home instead of slippers), are hand-knitted in the UK from alpaca yarn straight from the Lake District.