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A Peek Inside Alpaca World

August 25, 2013

As I mentioned in my fashion mag post, one of Peru’s most successful exports is alpaca wool. Raw materials and finished products are massively popular among style-searching consumers around the globe, increasingly so in New York City. Last week I was treated to a behind the scenes tour of two alpaca fiber production museum-shop-resource centers and a local boutique.

Oh, and I got to pet some Alpacas. *Cue girly scream*

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First stop, Alpaca 21—one of the many alpaca fiber shops located in Arequipa’s Claustros de la Compañía. This shop features original designs and locally produced samples using alpaca and baby alpaca fibers.

The shop owner said menswear sells more frequently than womenswear, but the menswear is less fashion-oriented and more functional. Tourists, of course, also love to stock up on colorful ponchos and hats!

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Below is one of the owner’s original designs.

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Yes, I hugged the stuffed alpaca at the door, figuring it would be hard for me to break into the alpaca pens at our next destination to do the same to them.

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INCALPACA was our next stop: a multi-purpose shop and mini-zoo featuring alpaca, llama and vicuña products, information, and a few of the animals themselves.

“We were born with a legacy whose origins are rooted in the beginnings of modern-day industry yet which, at the same time, echoes the remote traditions of a people who dressed themselves in textiles made from the finest yarns bestowed on them by the gods.” – INCALPACA

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Finally, we ventured to Mundo Alpaca, an impressive museum, boutique, and material resource center. Your first steps through the doors lead you into beautiful shop stocked with the highest quality alpaca fiber products, combining modern and traditional fashion. But the real fun starts when you leave the shop and enter the museum!

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We were lucky enough to witness two women employing ancient Peruvian hand-weaving techniques (called Tejido) with naturally dyed fibers. They themselves are heavily involved in the campaign to preserve these techniques, and they told us it takes about a month to weave two meters of fabric this way.

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We also got to see some old machinery used in the alpaca production industry through the years—much of the machinery itself was imported from Germany. As we saw from the vintage shipping stencils mounted on the wall, alpaca fiber has been exported throughout the world for many years.

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And what would an alpaca museum be without the chance to squeal lovingly at the animals themselves?!

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Mundo Alpaca also featured award winning locally designed textiles, stations to feel different kinds of fibers, and many other ways to get up close to this booming industry.

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Finally, you’ll find the Michell Group yarn warehouse-style shop, where you can pick up a few spools of high quality materials for your next knitting project. Check the clearance bin in the back!

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Mundo Alpaca is a beautiful (and informative) resource. If you’re ever in Arequipa, I strongly suggest a visit. All of the information you’ll find there is also translated to English. Take notes!

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Hope you enjoyed this alpaca-saturated journey as much as I did! It was quite a day… and it took a while to decide which animal photos to post. I love them aaaaaall. 

Until next time…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 26, 2013 7:38 AM

    I am totally loving these Peru posts, Meesh~! <3

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