Alpaca Wool Is the One Fabric Missing From Your Closet
10 of our favorite pieces featuring comfy and versatile fabric
On a recent trip to Peru’s Sacred Valley, I was struck by how green and beautiful it was, but even more so by how important the alpaca appeared to be to the local people and the economy.
Nearly every store was advertising the sale of alpaca goods. The animals have been an important part of the culture for centuries. They’re much like sheep, used for their meat, but even more so for their wool, which can be spun into warm and durable fibers to make textiles. There are two types of alpaca: Huacaya, which is much more common, producing wool much like a sheep’s, and Suri, which is much rarer and produces wool much more similar to silk.
The benefits of Alpaca are numerous. Because the majority of alpaca is Huacaya, we’ll start there. It’s much lighter than wool while maintaining the same durability and warming capabilities (it’s actually warmer than sheep wool). On top of that it has no lanolin, so it is natural hypoallergenic, meaning it isn’t nearly as itchy or prickly.
That got me thinking, why aren’t we wearing more alpaca in the United States? It’s got all the quality of wool, without really any of the downside, other than generally being a good bit more expensive. It’s far from ubiquitous at this point, and it’s damn near impossible to find pure alpaca, but there are some standout brands making quality alpaca blends. Below our 10 of our favorites.
Todd Snyder Solid Alpaca Crew
A reasonably priced crewneck even at its normal price, it’s currently 50% off and available in a smattering of different colors. Great for layering over a button up.
Club Monaco Fair Isle Knitted Sweat
A fresh take on your typical Fair Isle sweater, this one features a larger pattern than normal. The alpaca infusion adds some fuzziness to a normally coarse sweater style.
Melin Lambwool + Alpaca Beanie
As evidenced by the name, this is a blend of lambswool and alpaca and is one of the softest pieces of headwear that will ever adorn your noggin.
John Varvatos Striped Crewneck Pullover
The Detroit badboy puts out a piece that is much more reminiscent of a classic Breton shirt, but this time incorporating heavy amounts of alpaca wool. It’s also highly discounted at the moment.
Billy Reid Cotton & Alpaca Blend Knit Shirt Jacket
What’s not to love about a shacket? It’s a menswear staple and ideal for in-between weather when you aren’t quite sure what you need. The alpaca lends an extra element of softness to the sturdy piece.
Faherty Winter Plains Full Button Cardigan
A phenomenal option for layering, this cardigan is basically a bulky shacket that is ideal for the chillier days when it’s still too warm for a full parka.
Rag & Bone Arnie Alpaca-Blend Sweater
The highest percentage of alpaca of any item on this list, this sweater will keep you extremely warm thanks to the previously mentioned alpaca properties.
La Prisa Alpaca Throw
Sourced by the world travelers at The Citizenry, this throw is made of 100% baby alpaca (known for being even softer than adult alpaca) and hand loomed in Peru. A great addition to any couch.
Todd Snyder Sherpa Chore Jacket
Sherpa jackets will never not look cool, and this one is no exception. It features a blend of cashmere, alpaca and virgin wool to keep you warm and comfy while still looking fly as hell.
Ralph Lauren Purple Label Alpaca Blend Top Coat
Don’t need to really explain much about this one. Kind of a big flex, but if you can pull it off, hell, go for it.
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