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What makes a great sweater? To be a must-have for cold weather, it needs to be soft, warm,
and long-lasting. Bonus points if it can resist water, is eco-friendly, and has good insulation. Alpaca 
and cashmere are competing to be the best sweaters, known for their super-soft feel. But which one
is better? Let us compare them based on our essential sweater needs.

Wool quality is determined by microns, with smaller microns indicating finer and softer wool.
High-quality alpaca ranges from 18–23 microns, and most cashmere fibers are around 19
microns. This makes alpaca potentially as soft as, or even softer than, cashmere.

Cashmere used to be considered very luxurious, but things changed in the 1990s. The demand
for cashmere grew a lot, and China started making a lot of it, which made it less special. As a
result, prices and quality went down. Mass production caused breeders to cross-breed goats to
get more wool, but it became shorter and not as good. Some makers even mix cashmere with
synthetic yarns to make it softer and cheaper. So, not all cashmere is the same, and you need to
be careful about its quality.

On the other hand, alpaca has a more traditional and careful process. Knitting and weaving with
alpaca is a special craft in Peru, part of their cultural heritage. Companies work directly with
local breeders to ensure good quality and support these artisans, helping them have a better

Cashmere fiber comes from Hircus goats, and their grazing harms natural grasslands. The
widespread use of cashmere has damaged many grasslands in China. On the other hand, alpacas
have soft feet, so they can roam in the Peruvian Andes without harming the environment. Unlike
cashmere goats, alpacas do not destroy the roots of the plants they eat. In short, alpacas are
gentle on the land and support a sustainable habitat, while cashmere goats cause significant
environmental stress. This stress has led to desertification in Inner Mongolia, causing frequent
dust storms in China. Additionally, alpacas use less water than Hircus goats but produce more
wool. One alpaca can make enough wool for four to five sweaters a year, while it takes four
goats to make a single cashmere sweater. Unlike the limited natural colors of cashmere, alpaca
comes in 22 different natural colors. Because alpaca production combines traditional crafts with
sustainable methods, it can be considered under the “fair trade” label.

Durability and Piling
Pilling often occurs in fabrics with shorter hair. Cashmere fibers are only four centimeters long,
whereas alpaca fibers are longer, measuring between eight and twelve centimeters. This means
that pilling is more common in cashmere sweaters compared to alpaca sweaters. Additionally,
because alpaca fibers are sturdier, they are also more resistant to water, last longer, and keep their
shine for a longer period of time, unlike cashmere, which tends to pill and look worn out.

Cashmere sweaters keep you warm, but alpaca sweaters take it to the next level. Alpaca wool is
made in a way that creates air pockets, trapping warmth and keeping you cozy for a longer time.
These air pockets also let the fiber breathe, helping to regulate the temperature. Cashmere does
not have this structure, so it can’t give you the same insulation as alpaca.

There are almost 5 million alpacas for wool and over 700 million cashmere goats for the
cashmere industry. So, alpaca is kind of rare compared to cashmere. Being a smart shopper
matters. Your choice affects the environment and communities. With this information, we hope
you make the right sweater decision next time you shop.

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