Found in a vast array of natural colors from white to black and most everything in between (beiges, fawns, browns, and greys), the fiber of the alpaca is the byproduct for which the animals were originally first domesticated some 6,000 years ago. Modern textile grade alpaca fleece is blessed with amazing fineness, very good insulation qualities, and high luster, making alpaca a near perfect fiber from which to make luxurious garments. Because of those qualities, clothing made from it is both light weight yet extremely warm at the same time, while being more durable than cashmere.
Alpaca fiber, like the animals it comes from, comes in two types: Huacaya (wa-KA-ya) and Suri (SUE-ry). The huacaya is the more common of the two and possesses crimp from the skin of the animal all the way to the tips of the fiber, reminiscent of merino. It is the crimp which serves to create elasticity in garments that have been knit or woven from huacaya fiber. The suri fiber is made up of long thin pencil locks and possesses no crimp. Garments made from the luxurious fiber of the Suri alpaca generally have a drape to them not found in the huacaya. Suri fiber and anything made from it also tends to have a very high luster, which it retains, even when dyed.