Most of us desire to wear nice looking jackets and trousers but appearance of the fabric is not everything. We also need to learn about some other aspects of those fabrics and the material from which they are made in order to get the best out of our money spent on bespoke tailoring. Since, this is the winter season, let’s see some of the wools harvested from various animals and how they differ from each other and are better or less qualitative in comparisons.
Alpaca hair (wool)
Alpaca wool is less heard of in many countries of the world but is one of the best wools from which fabrics can be made. It is harvested from a smaller camelid species of llama (basically Huacaya and Suri) which had been domesticated over a time period of thousands of years. The best thing about the hair (wool) of alpaca is that its fibers contain lesser microscopic scales than that of sheep’s wool. This makes the wool very smooth and also makes it naturally waterproof. The tensile strength of this wool is more than that of sheep’s wool while the average diameter of the fiber is between 18-25 microns. Unlike sheep’s wool it is free from animal oil (sebum) etc. making is hypoallergenic and useful for everybody. Like all good things have a little negative factor, this wool also has a negative factor. It is difficult to dye like all the other camelid species.
Cashmere wool is quite famous for making sweaters and originally hails from the Indian state of Kashmir and named after it with different spellings. Cashmere is harvested from a native Kashmiri goat, biologically named as Capra hircus langier. The wool used in making threads and yarn is not the primary coat but the secondary coat which is more of an undercoat and is very soft. These beautiful and smooth coats are collected by shaving them simultaneously or from flora (plants, bushes etc.) where these are left in their thorns or branches while the sheep move among them grazing grass and herbs. The separation of the hair fibers is to be done manually and that is what makes it so laborious and expensive. These woolen fibers are known for their extreme softness and natural gloss, adding to these attributes it their being light weight which makes this wool ideal for making lighter yet warmer clothes.
People outside America may not have heard of this wool but it is harvested from a rodent, the size of a squirrel called Chinchilla. There are mainly two types of Chinchilla species, one is called the Chinchilla chinchilla and is stockier than the large eared one called Chinchilla langiera. Both of these species bear beautiful silver colored coats of very thick wool since they grow 65 hairs from every hair follicle whereas we humans just grow one. The Chinchilla wool is also expensive and light weight but it is one of the warmest coats of wool which exist naturally.
Guanaco is also a species of the camelid family and is found in the Andean plains of Southern America. This species of the camelid family is genetically closer to vicuna. Though the number of these animals have been reduced to only five hundred thousand only but its hair are able to trap heat and repel moisture and that is what makes it so rare, expensive and ideal for making winter clothes that too for people living or vising extreme climates.