J Alex Swift – Luxury SocksWhat is the craze about alpaca clothing? - J Alex Swift - Luxury Socks

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What is the craze about alpaca clothing?

Alpacas are a type of llama that was first discovered in South America and raised on farms for their exceptional fibre. Ancient Incan cultures used alpacas extensively and it was an important part of their day-to-day life. Nowadays, alpaca fibre is highly valued and can be used to make almost any type of clothing. 

Living in the high altitudes of the Andes Mountains alpacas had to develop a special fur to withstand the environment. They needed a β€œcoat” that could handle drastic temperature shifts from sub-zero at night to the high amount of sun rays during the day. And the millennia-long breeding results in incredible benefits that we are reaping today.

Many people seek out alpaca products because of their marvellous softness and warmth. If you’ve never owned a piece of alpaca clothing, you’ll probably be stunned by how much you’ll enjoy this prized luxury material.

Alpacas are kind to Earth

Alpacas and products made from their fur are so sustainable that they are still being traded today after thousands of years.

Gentle with the land. Alpacas nibble on the tops of the grass, they do not rip plants out of the ground like many other grazing animals. Resulting in less disturbance of the vegetation and allowing it to grow back quickly.

Softer feet. Goats and sheep have sharp hooves that damage pasture and soil. Meanwhile, alpacas have toenails on top and a soft pad on the bottom of their toes, minimising their effect on the topsoil.

Energy-saving. The treatment system for the water used in the washing process of alpaca fibre requires fewer chemicals and energy than what is needed for other animal fibres.

Eco-friendly. The natural habitat of alpacas is about 3.800 metres above sea level. The water supply is natural at this altitude, and the land is generally not suitable for agriculture. This makes alpacas more environmentally friendly than all other fibre-producing livestock.

Human-friendly. Alpacas are endearing and gentle animals. They are not only cute but intelligent too.Β They have a natural curiosity that makes them friendly and when handled correctly they can be quite affectionate.

The fibre of the Gods

To deserve such a title alpaca fibre must have incredible properties. And if after learning about the benefits of wearing alpaca you think it’s too good to be true, test it yourself.

Incredibly soft. The softness of any fibre depends on its microsurface. The smoother it is, the softer the feel of any garment made out of it. Look at the picture below to compare alpaca to other fibres and you will understand why it is so soft.

alpaca fibre comparison scale
Fibre comparison

Bear in mind that there are several types of alpacas, therefore softness can vary depending on the source. Also, fibre quality varies on different parts of the animal.

At J. Alex Swift the fibre is carefully selected so only the softest materials are used to make our alpaca yarn that then becomes socks.

Moisture-wicking. Wicking and absorbing moisture are not the same things. Wicking occurs when the fabric transports moisture away from its source to the outside of a fabric where it can evaporate. Cotton, for example, is very absorbent but does not have good wicking properties which are why feet can be sweaty and feel wet in cotton socks. Alpaca however has low moisture absorbency with great wicking properties resulting in a dry and warm foot.This important benefit prevents chafing against the skin, blisters, and colds.

Some also call alpaca waterproof and while we wouldn’t go that far, we must admit alpaca is highly water-resistant.

Thermo-regulation. Alpaca wool has a unique hollow fibre that traps the air inside. By doing so, it can maintain a constant temperature underneath the layer of wool. Alpaca wool does not absorb the temperature from the outside climate. It will always absorb and maintain a constant temperature that is more aligned with the body temperature. This goes for both hot and cold air. That is why it warms you up in the winter whilst in the summer it can feel cool. Now we are not talking about an air-conditioner here, but when the heat rises, alpaca helps maintain body temperature, you are less likely to overheat.

Also, any feeling of wetness from your clothes will lower your body temperature, especially in cold weather, that is where the significant moisture-wicking power of alpaca steps in. And when it gets too hot, the moisture-wicking fibres help take the sweat off.

Naturally hypoallergenic. Alpaca fibre is completely lanolin-free and hypoallergenic (will not affect allergies).

Odour free. Alpaca fibres do not contain any naturally occurring oils or grease, therefore having no foul odour. See next point for more proof.

Sweat resistance. Anti-bacterial fibres and moisture-wicking fibres absorb less sweat and bacteria, keeping the body clean and hygienic. This means less washing and less odour.

Anti-bacterial. Alpaca clothing can be reused several times without needing to be washed.

Breathable. Alpaca fibre allows fresh air to circulate

Alpaca socks

While a jumper or a scarf can be loose fitted, a sock more or less will be skin-tight. And often you will wear them with shoes, putting the socks in a closed environment. The body’s natural perspiration will occur regardless of your activity but of course, the more active you are, the more you sweat.

Wet feet will not only lower your body temperature, but the moist, closed environment can be a hotbed for bacteria.

The solution?

Wear socks made from natural fibres as they are breathable. That will help with odour and lessens the chance of bacteria growing.

Even better if your socks are anti-bacterial (like alpaca or mohair).

To keep your feet dry and at body temperature choose a material with moisture-wicking properties.

Top all that with the softness of alpaca and you have a winner.

No wonder here at J. Alex Swift we are still manufacturing alpaca socks after 25 years of knitting them. If you are interested in how we started, read this article. We are proud to say that our alpaca socks are favoured by many and what better testament to measure success with than our ever-growing number of wholesale customers

Put it to the test

In this article, I dared you to test out all the features of alpaca for yourself. Like any of us have time for that. Not to worry, I’ve found a lady who did that for the good of humanity. If you want to dig deeper into the subject, head over to Yanantin alpaca where the founder, Eveline presents her findings.

If you are already convinced

Good news, now you can also buy direct from us. Many styles are even exclusive to our webshops. Browse our alpaca sock selection here.

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