It walks free, silent and alert with a graceful elegance. The vicuña is a wild species found in herds that wander through the Andes of Perú, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. Perú is home to 70% of the world's vicuña population.
The back of the animal bears the colour of the sun while lower parts of the body show locks of white. The fibre is among the world's finest, with average diameter between 11,0 and 13,5 microns. These are the smallest and prettiest of the South American camelids, with a body length of up to 80 centimetres and weighing between 35 and 50 kilos. The thermal properties and unparalleled fineness of the fibre have been valued since ancient times and it was considered a symbol of nobility in the Inca Empire, to be processed only by the 'Virgins of the Sun'.
The vicuña is a species protected by Peruvian Law, the commitment of firms like ours and the local communities who watch over the animals. The vicuñas are shorn, for example, in an ancient, peaceful and festive ritual known as the Chaccu.
The fibre is then used to produce our extraordinarily high-quality and beautiful fabrics and garments, maintaining at all times the ecological balance of the region.
The guanaco roams freely across the Andean steppes, with the mountains as its only owners and herdsmen. It is found in Argentina, Perú, Bolivia, Chile and Paraguay; but Argentina, from the Andean peaks to Patagonia, is where 95% of the world's guanaco population is to be found.
Its agility enables the guanaco to reach rough and precarious terrain when fleeing from predators. An elegant and wary posture highlight the animal's delicate bone structure; the guanaco stands almost two metres tall and weighs about 150 kilos. It can run at a speed of 50 kilometres per hour.
The head is small, with pointed ears, and the neck long and curved. The hair is mostly copper-coloured with darker areas on the head and lighter colouration on the lower body. The fleece is dense and the fibre is strong but soft, with an average diameter of 14 to 16 microns, quite similar to that of the vicuña.
Shearing is carried out annually and requires special licences. Each animal yields between 450 and 500 grammes of fibre, and this raw material goes into some of our most original and unequivocally beautiful fabrics and garments.
The alpaca is the lord of the Peruvian Andes. There are more than four million alpacas in Perú where, since the earliest times, the species has shared its existence with people of the Andean steppes, people who are the traditional herdsmen of these useful animals.
Both types of alpaca are beautiful creatures. The suri has very long, dense, wavy fibre which is lustrous and soft to the touch. The fleece of the huacaya is curly and voluminous, somewhat shorter than that of the suri. Both are highly valued for their excellent characteristics: they refuse to burn unless in direct contact with a flame, they are soft to the touch, absorb a little humidity from the surroundings, and are thermally insulating, strong and elastic. Alpaca products have a superb appearance, an aristocratic drape and a natural lustre that does not diminish with time.
There is no other natural fibre that occurs in so many different colours. Each animal produces a fleece weighing between 1,5 and 2,0 kilos and average fibre fineness varies between 15 and 28 microns. This makes alpaca a favourite material for handcrafted or industrial textiles, either pure or in blends. Employed in a variety of products, like ours, it is much sought after in the world's most demanding markets.
The llama fed and clothed the New World's most powerful empires and provided a vital means of transport within their territories. A beast of burden, it supplied meat and textile fibre for the sustenance and development of ancient societies, and is to this day raised by Andean folk.
These placid but wary animals easily recognize their owners. The llama's height varies between 1,5 and 2,0 metres and they may weigh up to 155 kilos. Their mastery of life in frigid surroundings reveals the strength and resilience of the two varieties: ccara and chaky. The ccara has short hair and a camel-like face, while the chaky has dense, long hair. Both breeds occur in a variety of colourings ranging between black and white and including greys and all shades of brown.
The fibres of the llama's fleece have some similarity with those of alpaca, but they are much less frequently used in the textile industry as a prior dehairing process is required for higher-quality products. The average fibre diameter varies between 20 and 80 microns, according to whether it is a 'fleece' animal or a load-bearer. About 3 kilos of fibre is shorn from each animal, the amount varying according to the animal's genetics. A versatile fibre, we use it in an interesting range of textile products for personal or decorative use.