"Vicuna, the world's most expensive fabric is softer, lighter and warmer than any other wool on earth. It measures just 12 microns in diameter. The merino wool is higher in microns. It is the finest fiber that can be spun. Their wool is about 8 times finer than that of human hair. It resembles very fine wool, but feels like a luxurious blend of silk and other fine hairs.
Relative to the llama and a member of the camelid family, this rare breed of animal comes from the high altitudes of the Andes in South America. Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Peru are the beautiful homelands of these wonderful creatures. It lives and feeds on the grasslands and plains of the Alpines. The vicunas roam wild at altitudes between 3,000 to 5,500 feet and cannot be domesticated.
The great white vicuna starves itself in captivity so farming them is off limits. Therefore, the vicunas can only be corraled in herds and shorned (shaved) for their wool and then released back into the wild. These animals produce the softest, lightest and warmest wool around. Vicunas only shed a pound of hair every year. Vicunas can only be shorned once every three years.
For centuries, dating back to the days of the Incas, this rare camel breed has been roaming the countryside in South America. This wool fabric was only worn by royalty centuries ago! Commoners who wore the vicuna fabric were put to death. Vicuna wool has been highly regarded since the time of the Incas who named it "the fabric of the gods." As such, the Incas law reserved it exclusively for family members of royalty. By rounding up wild vicunas every three to five years into stone corrals, their hides were harvested when the animals where sheared and let go into the wild.
The vicuna was hunted for both its wool and its meat as the Spanish conquistadors took over the Inca territory. The conquistadors referred to the fiber as "the silk of the New World." As a result, its numbers dropped over the centuries during the time of the Incas from more than a million to 5,000 by the mid 1960's. This is when controls were first introduced on the trade of vicuna wool.
Because of it's rarity and the animal shedding only a pound of wool per year, this is why vicuna yarn is so expensive! The reason why vicuna yarn remains the world's most expensive fabric is because of its highly restricted availability in combination with its unique softness, lightness and warmth. This fabulous fabric produced by vicunas is so wonderfully creamy.
In 1976, vicunas were placed on the endangered species list. The United Nations agency which monitors trade involving endangered animals and plants is CITES. Any kind of trade was forbidden with the vicuna species. Presently, the conservation efforts of four South American nations have remarkably seen the number of vicunas stabilize and increase substantially. Peru, one of the four South American nations, has a population of over 160,000 vicunas.
Today, vicuna wool is harvested very much in the same manner as in the days of the Incas. They are herded into clusters where they are sheared for their wool and then set free into the wild. The international trade in vicuna fabric is once again allowed. Because the vicuna is unsuitable for farming, their low yield of wool each year along with the fact that they are relatively low in numbers, makes this fabric very rare and expensive. The uniqueness of this material and because it is so soft, light, and warm ensures that vicuna yarn will remain the most expensive fabric in the world."
The HubPages, "The Rarest and Most Expensive Fabric in the World"
Me interesa que la vicuña es un animal tan raro y que no puede vivir en captividad. Los conquistadores mataron casi todas las alpacas también porque sabían tanto les importan a los Incas las alpacas y las vicuñas. También es interesante que hay cuatros tipos de animales en la familia de camellos en Sudamérica, la alpaca, la llama, la vicuña, y el guanaco. La lana de todos de estos animales es muy suave y cuesta mucha en los mercados internacionales. Porque he tejado más de ocho años, he usado la lana de llamas, camellos, y alpacas. Me encanta esta fibra y los animales tienen mucha personalidad.