As a brand founded on an enchantment with horses and the lifestyle surrounding them, there is another animal that figures prominently in Stick & Ball's inspiration and collection: the alpaca. Since our inception in 2011, all of our luxury knit and woven products - ponchos, throws, and pillows - are made with 100% pure baby alpaca, a natural fiber gaining prominence in the fashion industry for its incredible attributes and sustainability.
Baby alpaca refers to the soft fleece carefully shorn from the underside of the animal's neck (not the age of the alpaca) and the fineness of the fiber - in technical terms, a diameter of 21 - 23 microns. In Peru, home to an estimated 3 million alpacas, it is said that the Incas placed a higher value on its fiber than on silver or gold. For many of the same reasons it was honored by the indigenous people of the Andes, it is a prized element of our collection too.
The exceptional fineness of fibers designated as baby alpaca, hand-sorted after the annual shearing of the fleece, offer a softness comparable to cashmere. Alpaca fiber, though, unlike sheep's wool or cashmere from goats, has hollow air pockets which provides a superior, insulating warmth, breathability, and an overall light weight to the finished textile. This is what makes our woven ponchos comfortably wearable in and out of the saddle and in a variety of climates!
The length of baby alpaca fibers give finished garments a highly durable quality and resistance to pilling. Because the fleece is naturally free of lanolin, it is also hypo-allergenic (read: not itchy). There are more than 20 rich, naturally occurring colors of alpaca fleece, requiring the use of less dye - good for both our customers' skin and the environment.
In term of the sustainability of alpaca herding and ranching, alpacas have a light environmental footprint (literally) with their soft padded feet, low water consumption, and a delicate grazing style that leaves root systems intact.
The alpaca, in many ways, represents both the past and future of Peru, and my travels there allow Stick & Ball to source this ancient fiber and produce our products in an ethically and environmentally conscious way. If you are new to experiencing the luxury of baby alpaca, I recommend our Solid Throws or the Blanket Striped Poncho as a beautiful, fine introduction.