Alpaca fibre, both from Southern countries of Peru and Australia, is in high demand in the luxury apparel market mainly due to its natural range of colours and other environment friendly qualities.
This can be gauged from the fact that the Peruvian Society of Registered Alpaca (SPAR) recently exported 7.1 tons of high quality alpaca fibre worth US$ 125,000 to Italian fabric manufacturing company Fratelli Piacanza, known for manufacturing of high-quality garments.
Speaking to fibre2fashion, Mr. Paul Valley, owner and manager of Australian Alpaca Fibre Testing (AAFT), said, “There is an increase in demand for alpaca fibres in the garment industry because of the rapidly surging consumer demand for environment-friendly products.”
“One of the main features of Australian alpaca fibre is that it is extremely soft as compared to other fibres and therefore it is highly suited for luxury ‘next to skin’ wear garments,” he adds.
According to the Institute of Production Technology (Instituto Tecnológico of Production or ITP), the regional government of Peru’s Southeastern province of Puno recorded 50 percent increase in exports of garments made from alpaca fibre, in recent years.
Mr. Mercedes Hair Ines Carazo, executive director of ITP, said in a statement, “The Puno region of the country has great potential to develop the skill of designing alpaca-made clothing among the local artisans.”
He also added that Puno’s regional government will invest approximately US$ 28.7 million over the next six years for improving the alpaca production chain.
According to Mr. Valley, the vibrant range of natural colours of alpaca fibres provides it a clear product differentiation from other fibres as there is no need for use of harsh chemicals during the dyeing process. “The fact that alpacas are often reared in welfare friendly conditions also carries a distinct advantage,” he mentions.
However, Ms. Michelle Mait, president of Australian Alpaca Association (AAA), says, “Although Australian alpaca industry has gone through a herd-building phase since its establishment some 20+ years ago, there are logistical difficulties and considerable expense in transporting alpaca fibre mainly due to the geographical diversity and location of farms.”
When asked about the various steps being taken by the association to rectify the challenges faced by the industry, she says, “We encourage alpaca farmers to work together, to collect and collate fleece, to create economies of scale for packaging and transport as well as to provide a means for smaller growers to make their fleece available to a range of prospective buyers.”
Similarly, the Peruvian trading agency Sierra Exports, SPAR along with representatives of Agronomists and veterinarians without Borders (AVSF) offered technical support to the Peruvian alpaca fibre producers to use advanced shearing methods for high-quality fibre.
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