Vicuna is known around the world as the finest, softest, and lightest natural fiber available. In its undyed version, the fabric has a golden-brown appearance, which is why it is often called the “Gold of the Andes”.
A rare, valuable, and delicate fiber made from vicuña.
The Vicuna, a camelid cousin of the alpaca, is a small and graceful animal that roams wild in the Andean mountains at altitudes between 3,200 and 4,800 meters. The natural fibers of the vicuna are considered the rarest in the world due to the strict conservation restrictions on the shearing process.
In the 1960s due to indiscriminate hunting and poaching the Vicuna was close to extinction. Thankfully, the Peruvian government, together with UNESCO, began a series of strategies and agreements that allowed the creation of programs geared toward the protection and conservation of the species. At the same time, these programs allowed for the sustainable commercialization of Vicuna fiber, through educating the Andean shepherds about the care and importance of Vicunas for the environment as well as their livelihood.
Vicuna fibers are collected with minimal damage to the animal. This is usually done by hand shearing the llamas, which is done by the native growers. The fibers are then processed without the use of chemicals, meaning the industrial impact on the environment is minimized.
The fabric is produced in a way that is very similar to wool with the fibers being combed and carded to remove the imperfections before the yarns are spun and ultimately woven or knitted into fabrics. This animal can only be shorn once every three years so the fibers are very rare.
- Softer and more delicate than cashmere
- Retains warmth
- Does not pill easily
- Able to shed moisture and dries quickly
- Flame resistant
- Easily damaged when dyed
How Vicuna fabric is made?
Vicuna fabric is the fiber from the llama which is native to the Andes Mountains of South America. It is more expensive and rarer than Cashmere and it a very luxurious fabric. It comes from the smallest and most graceful member of the llama family that has an orange coat with white patches.
In Incan time this Vicuna fabric was known as ‘Fabric of the gods’ and only royalty were permitted to wear it. Any commoners that wore it were put to death.
Why Vicuna Is So Special
Vicunas have the finest coat of any known animal, about twice as fine as Cashmere. In its purest state, the wool is undyed, maintaining its rich, golden color. The animals can only be shorn every three years, and after each shearing, they are tagged and released into the wild again.
Due to its fine fibers, Vicuna is extremely light and soft, yet warm and insulating. Each Vicuna garment is a piece of art and a true pleasure to wear.
Why knowing the vicuña is important
Vicuña is world renowned for its incredibly low average fiber diameter (AFD), 12.5 microns. It is by far the finest and most consistent of all camelid fibers. It is valued at between $400 and $600 per kilogram (2.2 lbs), which is significantly higher than any other specialty fiber. Before one can begin figuring ways to import vicuñas it is important to realize that the vicuña is a wild animal that is protected by numerous international treaties that specifically forbid exportation. The significance of introducing the vicuña to this discussion and understanding more about its fleece has to do with its close relationship with the alpaca.
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