Alpaca vs Cashmere

17th March 2014

I am often asked by our customers why they should choose alpaca fibre over something like cashmere...a good question!
Cashmere has the lead in the market by far; it is a better known yarn and is renowned for being luxurious, super-soft and high-quality. Of course, any person will tell you that there are grades of quality and that there is cheap, poor-standard cashmere and the cream of the crop cashmere and that usually, you get what you pay for. The same can be said for alpaca on the quality scale; Baby Alpaca, the only type of Alpaca that Samantha Holmes uses, is generally considered to be the best standard (except for Royal Alpaca at 18 microns approx) and usually has a grade of around 21 microns. Therefore the softness or 'prickle factor' is very close. Certainly wearing one of our Jersey Knit Travel Shawls feels just as luxurious to any Cashmere Travel Shawl – obviously we’re a little biased but we’ve been told frequently by our customers that they are in full agreement – wrapping yourself up on a long-haul flight with one of our Alpaca Travel Shawls will have you feeling draped in luxury and cosy warm instantly.
Now things get interesting:
China mass produces nearly ¾ of all cashmere products. There was even an article posted on the BBC website a month ago which said that rat fur (among other things) was found to be in garments claiming to be Cashmere – Italian authorities seized over 1 million items in this case! Sadly these examples are on the increase. Alpaca is mostly sourced from Peru where alpacas originate – Samantha Holmes only sources alpaca from Peru and has most products hand-produced by small artisan groups there supporting fair trade.
Alpaca fibres are hollow with an insulating core making it the warmest option but also breathable. It contains no lanolin and is hypoallergenic; an excellent choice of material for a baby garment. Our Alpaca Travel Shawl also makes a fantastic ‘new mum’ gift as it makes a fantastic breast-feeding blanket and mum can rest easy knowing that her baby’s sensitive skin is safe.
Lastly, there are many perks of alpaca over cashmere but the biggest is probably price! A good-quality Cashmere Travel Shawl/Wrap will usually set you back between £200-£300 where as our Alpaca Travel Shawl/Wrap retails at £99.
Cashmere has a long-standing reputation for quality and softness. Due to it being the more well-known yarn it is often trusted and nearly always more pricey. A savvy shopper can do a few researches to gather their own opinions but if the quality is like for like then I propose that the benefits and price of Alpaca means it wins this contest hands down!