Discover the World’s Finest WoolVicuña Wool

Vicuna Wool

Here you will discover everything you need to know about the finest and most expensive wool in the world: Vicuña. According to the Incas vicuña wool is the Fibre of Gods.

In the past, only Incan royalty was wearing it, and today an elegant scarf costs about $2,150 – if you can find it!

Vicuna mammals walking in Atacama desert

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Would you like to know why the Vicuña fine wool is so rare and expensive? Read on to find out! 

First things, first! What is Vicuña fine wool? 

Vicuña wool is an exceptional gift of nature.

Vicuña is the finest of wools, coming from a delicate little animal living in the Andes. The vicuña animal is known as the “bearer of the golden fleece,” and it is a small member of the camel family. It is a close cousin to the guanaco and the ancestor of the alpacas, which are so popular these days. The vicuñas live only in the upper altitudes of the Andes Mountains in the wilderness of the Peruvian, Argentinean, and Bolivian highlands.

In ancient times vicuñas were sacred to the Incas and valued for their ultra-soft fine wool. People refer to the vicuña animal as the “Queen of the Andes” and it was believed that it was the reincarnation of a magnificent young lady who was offered a coat of pure gold. Only emperors and their families were allowed to wear this precious fiber.

Here, you can find more details about the Vicuña animal.

The rare qualities of Vicuña wool 

Vicuña is the finest fiber in the world! This exquisitely fine wool has a micron count – the width of a single strand – that is only 8 to 13 microns. Consider that cashmere fine wool averages around 14 microns, while extra-fine merino wool usually starts around 19 microns.

Vicuña fibers are hollow and filled with air, making the cloth amazingly warm and light. They are so soft and sensitive that they are left untreated to their natural color – a warm cinnamon shade. Any chemical treatment to alter their color would ruin them.

Untreated vicuña wool is so warm and light and luxurious!

Chaccu de Vicuñas - Huamachuco - Peru by Drone
In Inca culture, the way a person dressed said a lot about their social status.
Vicuna was so much valued that only the royalty was allowed to wear clothes made of vicuña wool!
Of the various textile fibers, the roughest materials were intended for the clothing of ordinary working-class people. The ruling class strictly controlled the clothing within the Inca community. Up until today, the traditional Peruvian costume reflects the clothing of the Inca of the past.
Panoramic image of Machu Picchu
The huge Inca Empire covered all of Peru, stretching from Lake Titicaca in the south to Colombia in the north.

Why is Vicuña wool so expensive? 

The Vicuña fine wool is not only of exquisite quality, but it is also rare by its nature. A vicuña can only be sheared once every two years and in total only five times in its lifetime. Gathering the wool is extremely rare, and it is a time-consuming task carried out according to local tradition.

Impressively, in the days of the Incas, Vicuña wool was gathered only once every four years, according to a ritual that took place at the end of the summer:

The Chaccu.

The local communities would come together, enclose a chosen area, and gradually gather the animals into large enclosures. The Inca emperor would carefully witness the whole ceremony, and the vicuñas were released immediately after shearing.

Today, the ancient traditions of the Chaccu ceremony are still preserved. Every year in June, hundreds of men and women meet on the mountain plateaus to celebrate the event. They dance and sing and shout and whistle to call the vicuñas downhill and gather them into shearing enclosures.

The animals are selected very carefully, and the young ones that are not yet ready are left out, in the wind-swept Andes.

Vicuña wool is as good as gold, and people treat the animals with the respect they deserve.Furthermore, each of these magnificent animals produces only about four ounces of fiber each time, which makes Vicuña wool even more precious.

Preserving Peruvian nature and the delicate Vicuña animal 

In the 1960s, the vicuñas were placed on the Endangered Species list since they were hunted to extinction after the Spanish conquest. In the Pre-Colombian period, there were approximately three million wild vicuñas in the highlands of Peru. However, when the Spanish arrived, they hunted the animals heavily to obtain their high-quality wool.

In 1960 the number of vicuñas reached 5000, which ultimately forced the Peruvian government to implement measures for their protection. Thankfully the conservation efforts were effective, and since 2002, there is a certification process in place that ensures that vicuña wool is legally obtained.  

According to the latest policies, the vicuñas are sheared and immediately returned to the wild. They are also not sheared again for a minimum of two years.

The project for the conservation of this delicate animal was successful, and the population increased. I am happy to report that today the vicuña population is thriving in the Andes Mountains.

Vicunas grazing below Chimborazo - The highest Volcano in Ecuador

Vicuña is the most opulent fiber in the world 

Only sold by the most exquisite and luxurious stores, Vicuña wool is the stuff of dreams. If you wanted to hand-knit your very own creation using Vicuña yarn, a ball weighing 1oz would cost you $300.00, and of course, you would have to pre-order it!

Clothing items created using the rare and unique Vicuña wool are lightweight with a silky look and feel.  Available in their beautifully natural cinnamon color, they are products of ultimate luxury.

There are only a few manufacturers who process or distribute these precious fibers. If you are interested, you can have a look at *Loro Piana from Italy or *Alpaca Collections.

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