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Alpaca is Better Than Cashmere continued

…Ultimately cashmere is proving catastrophic for the enviroment. The Chinese grasslands are unable to support the number of cashmere goats required to meet the world’s growing demand of the cashmere fibre and consequently, these grasslands are turning into deserts of ice.

Cashmere was an extremely rare commodity until the early 1990’s but due to retailers and manufacturers finding ways to supply the luxury yarn at lower prices, demand for uber soft, colourful and light cashmere jumpers has boomed -100% cashmere sweater can be  bought at Uniqlo for less than £80 and a blended cotton – cashmere for less than £40.)

alpacas (AP Photo - Kerstin Joensson).png

alpacas (AP Photo – Kerstin Joensson).png

Consequently, the number of goat herds has exploded. Behind China, Mongolia is the second largest cashmere supplier where the goat population quadrupled from 5 million to 20 million in under 20 years (from 19990 to 2009).

Already, nearly all of Mongolia is at risk of turning into desert (90%) whilst many predict that over-grazing is exacerbating the effects of climate change in a process that is already advanced. The Gobi Desert increased by an area larger than the Netherlands between1994 and 1999 – that’s all within 5 years?!

By their nature, goats are more versatile than sheep meaning that shepherds in Mongolia now have a tendency to switch their livestock towards goats as land becomes more desert-like which fuels the problem by further damaging the ecology. The goats’ sharp hooves destroy topsoil and grass whilst they eat plants close to their roots which destroys their native grasses. It’s an extremely counter-productive system.

These former grasslands are home not only to goats and sheep but also home to wild horses, endangered snow leopards and the Tibetan antelope. In turn, the cashmere industry has threatened all of these animals’ survival. In turn and quite literally, the environmental footprint of an alpaca is far lighter than a cashmere goat’s. http://www.plumoflondon.com/history-alpacas.php

Alpacas Are Enviromentally Friendly

Alpacas soft, padded feet are gentle on the natural terrain and they graze without destroying root systems as they don’t eat purely the tops of grass unlike sheep and goats. Alpacas originate in the Alti Plano of the Peruvian Andes which is far less a fragile ecosystem.

Cute image of an Alpaca's face

Alpaca in its natural habitat

Alpacas are seeing much less of a boom in numbers unlike those of cashmere goats. The kind of population boom that cashmere goats have seen seems less likely for alpacas. According to the Natural Resources Defence Council, alpacas are much more efficient than cashmere goats. An alpaca consumes less water than a goat and is also able to grow enough fibre to create 4/5 jumpers in a year whilst in comparison, it takes four goats the same amount of time to produce enough cashmere yarn for a single sweater. It is now very easy to see why Alpaca can and should replace cashmere as the world’s number 1 ethical and sustainable luxury yarn.

Of course, the ultimate aim of us as alpaca brands and retailers is to offer product that is equal to if not better than those of cashmere which in fact, is proving easily attainable, especially as the quality of cashmere has declined. Mongolia’s cashmere industry privatized in 1990 when breeders began crossbreeding their herds and started to focus on quantity over quality – henceforth destroying cashmere’s tagline of being a ‘luxury’ fibre. The result was that although goats produced more cashmere by weight, the fibre became shorter and coarser which ultimately created a jumper that’s not as soft, not as durable, not as warm, doesn’t retain its shape and is much more likely to pill and ball. Whereas 30/ 40 years ago, cashmere garments would stand the test of time when the yarn wasn’t over-farmed, now the consumer will be lucky if their cashmere top lasts a season?! http://www.plumoflondon.com/why-alpaca.php

Contrary to popular opinion, alpaca fibres are sorted and arranged from where they’ve been shorn which ranges from the premium fibre which is taken from closest to the body and classified as baby alpaca and is not shorn from actual baby alpacas (otherwise known as crias). The guard hairs of the alpaca are found on the animal’s legs and top coats.

Alpaca yarn is categorised and sold in a similar way to how prime cuts of beef are – some are better and therefore more expensive than others. We at Plum of London exclusively use Royal alpaca otherwise known as Super Baby Alpaca which easily rivals the best cashmere with regards to softness whilst completely surpassing it when it comes to durability, breathability (alpaca possesses better thermal properties than merino), strength (alpaca is second strongest only to silk), warmth (alpaca is warmer than goose down), whilst it also boasts hypoallergenic and antibacterial qualities among many others…!

Royal Alpaca Prices

We’re due to launch our own version of women’s and men’s Royal alpaca jumpers and sweaters which will retail between £150 – £300 which although may seem expensive, our customers can rest assured that they will be an incredible investment and one which will last one lifetime if not two… After all, purchasing clothes should be considered as a long-term investment and not one which is seen as a flippant decision made on impulse – otherwise known as the ‘throwaway culture’ that we have now unfortunately found ourselves in. The UK alone generates around 14 million tonnes of textile waste per year so surely it’s time to consider the planet ethically and sustainably and buy one or two amazing alpaca knitwear garments than several poor quality cashmere versions.

Revolutionising Sustainable Knitwear – Plum of London

Times are a changing and we at Plum of London are at the epicentre of those changes thanks to the revolutionary way alpaca can positively change and alter the textile landscape. Come and experience the quality and attributes for yourself first hand and we promise you nor the planet, will be disappointed.

Alpaca Is More Sustainable Than Cashmere

The alpaca member of the Camelid family are becoming increasingly adorned and highly cherished throughout the world whilst the true cost of cashmere is being exposed. Alpacas are extremely lovable, completely endearing and some may go as far to say as ‘cute’ animals which thanks in part to the Peruvian Trade Commission and Plum of London (!), are becoming more prevalent in western society than ever before.

Alpacas at a Country Show in Northumberland

The popularity of alpaca fibre has arrived at an apt time – the widespread availability of cashmere (wool spun from the soft hairs of the Asian cashmere (Kashmir) goats, is not sustainable.
Whilst the cost of cashmere to the consumer has decreased since the yarn went from exclusive luxury, most often knitted in Scotland, to mainstream in the late 1990’s, the quality has worsened.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/christmas/6562241/Retailers-cut-Christmas-prices.html

Whilst brands are launching their AW17/18 Collections, it is clear that alpaca is becoming inreasingly popular in the fashion industry. Alpaca has been represented on the catwalk by Versace and Louis Vuitton, whilst the US denim label Simon Miller, has created a pure alpaca sweater exclusively for Mr Porter here in the UK.

http://www.plumoflondon.com/index.php

Plum of London’s Luxury Alpaca Men’s Sweaters and Scarf Prove more Cherished than Cashmere

Demand from world brands is wrought – mills in Europe and Asia buy up their require quota of alpaca yarn from Peru in haste and this has created waiting lists for the yarn fondly known as ‘The Gold of The Andes’ in some circles.Peruvian mills have witnessed an increase in alpaca consumption and these mills are currently preparing orders for cluents in Japan, the US, Korea and Europe. Some brands including Ralph Lauren wil have alpaca which has been spun on cones, sent directly to their mills in China in readines for their new collections.

Alpaca is a natural fibre like cashmere, that looks and handles incredible and totally luxurious. There are various grades (qualities) of alpaca yarn but all are more durable than cashmere, whilst some is even softer, warmer and possesses many more attributes and benefits. As the term ‘The Gold of the Andes’ suggests, the Incas placed a higher value on alpaca fibre than even gold or silver.

There are arguably up to 29 natural colours that alpaca fleece comes in from the simple black and ivory to auburn and white whilst the fibre possesses a lustrous handle and creates a natural drape basting impeccable credentials – on paper alpaca possesses more benefits, attributes and benefits than all other yarns, both natural and synthetic. It’s just a matter of using expert craftsmanship and employing artisan skills to create alpaca knitwear and woven accessories to create pieces that do justice to its many, many attributes.

The increase in alpaca’s popularity is not only good for us, it’s also extremely good news for the planet. To explain why, please read our next post which justify this claim but to better understand why, visit in the meantime: http://www.plumoflondon.com/why-alpaca.php

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Alpaca

Plum of London – Lauding Alpaca Knitwear

We’re on a mission to educate and inform the world of the incredible benefits and advantages Royal alpaca possesses over all other yarns and so far, we think we’ve done quite well! So we thought we’d share the latest flattering reviews from Press and Customers alike…

Press Accolades

Awarded the Butterfly Mark as a ‘Brand To Trust.’ Positive Luxury

TrustMark-AWARD-04

‘Named in Top 5 Alpaca brands’. Eluxe Magazine

“Plum is a beautiful product”. Jo Malone MBE

“A beautifully intricate knit in the softest alpaca yarn.” Mrs Carole Middleton, mother of the Duchess of Cambridge

carol-shawl

”Plum of London, the brand that combines an incredible range of alpaca clothing with a guilt free way to shop.” The Good Web Guide

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”Launched in Britain, the new brand Plum of London quickly became a reference in the kids industry.”Papier Mache Magazine

‘Named in the best winter beanie hats for men’. The Telegraph

Best eco fashion brand: Plum of London
We’re delighted to have been shortlisted in the Junior Design Awards!

jda-2

“Keep an eye on Plum of London. Their innovative, sustainable, ethical and novel approach to knitwear offers a real alternative to high end, expensive fashion brands making lower quality products outside the UK” Grey Fox Blog

Customer Reviews

”Good evening, thank you for my items, which arrived today. Not only are the items lovely but I felt the need to drop you a line to say I like the personable way you do business. In a world of poorly worded emails and badly stuffed envelopes, it has made a pleasant change. With best wishes” Ms T.Smith, England.

”Hello I Just wanted to say thank you and how pleased i am with my recent order. I love the colour and feel and quality of the alpaca. The hat is warm without being heavy and sweaty like most hats. The ‘man snood’ as i call it is very comfortable around the neck and head, very comfortable item to wear.
The order came quickly, beautifully packaged and feels like a top quality product. I’m really keen to only buy products of this nature if i can afford them. I wish you every success and i am really happy with my purchase. Well done and thank you.” Revd. A.B. Midlands, England.

”The parcel arrived yesterday and I am very, very pleased with the scarf and the snoods! Wonderful products, I am sure I will come back to Plum of London! Thank you and kind regards from Finland.” Ms S.M. Jaali, Finland.

”Hello, I’m emailing you back to thank you for your email and specially for the nice scarf which I’ve got today, looks very good. I’m happy with the purchase and the service as well, thank you again and keep the good work up. Best Regards, Y.E.” London, UK.

”Just wanted to say – this is the BEST warmest scarf! It’s below -12 F degrees out and it blocks wind and keeps me nice and snug! Can’t wait for my neck scarf, ideally I could be encased in some kind of alpaca chrysalis!” Ms L.P. Chicago, USA.

We look forward to the day that you too can write something similar about Plum of London’s alpaca clothing and accessories – we’re sure you’ll be converted soon enough!

We look forward to welcoming you too to the family that is alpaca here at Plum of London…!

Why Alpaca?

We’re often asked why alpaca yarn performs so much better than cashmere, merino, wool as well as other yarns so have compiled which can be found below…

Why Alpaca?

Alpaca fibre has an almost infinite list of benefits and advantages over all other yarns;

Hypoallergenic

Unlike sheep and goats wool, alpaca fibre does not contain lanolin meaning that Plum of London’s knitwear range is especially good for babies, children and those with sensitive skin.

As soft yet finer than cashmere

Royal alpaca (which is used in our knitted clothing range) is the world’s finest alpaca yarn and boasts a micron count of less than 17. This results in alpaca knitwear that handles just as softly as cashmere but possesses so many more benefits.

Naturally antibacterial

Thanks to there being no lanolin present in alpaca fibre, pure alpaca clothing and garments repel dust mites and other organic matter which might trigger allergies.

Lacks the ‘prickle factor’ associated with wool

This risk is eradicated in our collection because we use only Royal alpaca in our knitted range. It has been said that those who can’t wear cashmere can wear alpaca.

Possess incredible thermal qualities

Properties which protect and insulate the alpaca at heights of up to 5500m and in temperatures varying from -28c to +27C mean that pure alpaca clothing  keeps the wearer cool in hot temperatures and warm in cool conditions. When required, alpaca fleece is 3 times warmer than merino and better insulating even than goose down.

Machine washable

Some fabric experts suggest alpaca has a lower tendency to shrink than both cashmere and wool, Due to alpaca being free of lanolin, Plum of London’s knitted garments don’t require regular cleaning but when required, are easy to clean and more importantly, machine washable!

Extremely durable

Alpaca fibre is almost indestructible: woven alpaca clothing has recently been found in almost perfect condition in Incan ruins dating back over 2,000 years. Alpaca is stronger than mohair and second in strength only to silk.

Wicks away body moisture

Therefore improving the comfort of anyone wearing alpaca clothing and ensuring that the wearer maintains a constant body temperature.

Resistant to stains

Alpaca fibre is impermeable to oils meaning spills are easy to clean up before water saturates the fibre which would otherwise allow stains to develop supporting the claim that there is no better yarn in which to clothe babies and children.

Resistant to odours

Thanks to its antibacterial and water resistant qualities, alpaca fibre successfully resists odours much more effectively than other similar fibres.

Does not retain water

Tests have shown that alpaca is virtually water repellent, allowing alpaca clothing to maintain its thermal qualities even when wet.

Not prone to ‘pill and ball’ unlike cashmere, wool and other yarns

All animal fibres contain ‘scales’ which are visible on each individual strand but the scales that are found on alpaca fibre are much shorter consequently improving the wearability and lifespan of alpaca clothing and products as they are less likely to create ‘pilling’ and ‘balling’.

Lightweight and has lustrous handling

Thanks to the ‘hollow’ qualities of alpaca fibre, Plum of London’s garments remain remarkably light when compared to other similar animal fibre (including merino, wool and cashmere) as well as synthetic clothing.

Resistant to wrinkling

Consequently, this helps alpaca garments to hold their shape and look new after even years of wear.

Fire resistant

Whilst it can catch alight, alpaca will not support a flame and so will not melt or stick to the skin unlike synthetic fibres. Alpaca does has been found to be even more flame retardant than merino wool.

Resistant to solar radiation

Which will protect your baby’s, children’s or indeed even your own skin from harmful UV rays by providing the wearer with a natural sun block.

http://www.plumoflondon.com/index.php

Year of the Shirt: Turnbull and Asser & LCF

Plum of London’s favourite shirtmaker, the British heritage brand Turnbull and Asser, have just launched a challenge for London College of Fashion’s undergraduate menswear and womenswear design students. London College of Fashion marks 2015 as The Year of the Shirt and in celebration of this, the students have been requested to reimagine and reconstruct everything they know about traditional shirting and create their own through their inspiration.

The head of London College of Fashion Professor Frances Corner OBE, commented: ”We are delighted to be working with Turnbull & Asser, who were founded in 1885 and have been a royal warrant shirtmaker since 1980, on a project which takes an item that is almost ubiquitous in everyone’s wardrobe and deconstructs and interrogates it with amazing results.”

Dean Gomilsek-Cole, Head of Design, Turnbull & Asser said of the collaboration:
”With 130 years of experience behind our brand, we wanted to make sure we were firmly focused on the future and being able to engage with young designers is key to that focus. The SHIRT project presents us with a two-way challenge, between history and innovation, the results of which will no doubt inspire.”

Turnbull & Asser will announce the winner of the project later in October at their showroom in Mayfair whilst their prize is already known: their design will then go into production for the proceeds to support them in their final year at UAL.

This is a rather similar enterprise to Plum of London’s own scheme to support the most promising young British knitwear designers and if other British heritage brands followed suit, the incredible creative potential these shores provide will soon be realised.

Plum of London: Luxury Alpaca Knitwear Receives Worldwide Plaudits

We here at Plum HQ have been constantly humbled by the ever increasing amount of people who’ve fallen head over heels in love with our range of pure Royal alpaca knitwear and woven accessories.

The super soft handle and incredible warmth of each alpaca piece is what seems to wow everyone most, especially during these colder months but that is until they learn of the almost infinite benefits that alpaca and more specifically Royal alpaca offers. When they learn of how strong alpaca is compared to all other yarns including cashmere and merino, they’re mightily impressed and so they should be: alpaca is stronger than mohair and lies just behind silk as the strongest fibre. This means that every piece will not only keep them warm and cosy but will also look newer for longer. This therefore assists Plum of London attain its philosophy: ‘to create sustainable and eco-friendly luxury British knitwear using ethically sourced alpaca yarn.’ It means each piece will last for decades and not just be thrown out after a short time, unlike the throw-away mentality that seems all too prevalent on today’s high street. We’ve listed just a few of our favourite messages from our happy customers below…

”Hello I Just wanted to say thank you and how pleased i am with my recent order. I love the colour and feel and quality of the alpaca. The hat is warm without being heavy and sweaty like most hats. The ‘man snood’ as i call it is very comfortable around the neck and head, very comfortable item to wear.
The order came quickly, beautifully packaged and feels like a top quality product. I’m really keen to only buy products of this nature if i can afford them. I wish you every success and i am really happy with my purchase. Well done and thank you.” Revd A.B. Midlands, England.

”The parcel arrived yesterday and I am very, very pleased with the scarf and the snoods! Wonderful products, I am sure I will come back to Plum of London! Thank you and kind regards from Finland.” Ms S.M. Jaali, Finland.

”Hello, I’m emailing you back to thank you for your email and specially for the nice scarf which I’ve got today, looks very good. I’m happy with the purchase and the Service as well, thank you again and keep the good work up. Best Regards, Y.E.” London, UK.

”Just wanted to say – this is the BEST warmest scarf! It’s below -12 F degrees out and it blocks wind and keeps me nice and snug! Can’t wait for my neck scarf, ideally I could be encased in some kind of alpaca chrysalis!” Ms L.P. Chicago, USA.

To conclude this post, we thought we’d mention that Peruvian alpaca brands and mills are currently exhibiting at a Trade Show in London and receiving amazing attention and interest. This infers that worldwide demand for this most luxury of fibres is increasing at a rate unlike anything seen before in the industry. We’re confident that we can offer the most discerning customers the products they’d most like to wear and quoting Peru’s ambassadors of alpaca, ”We’re ready to dress the world.”

Prince George’s Baby Shawl; the Plum of London connection

Plum of London’s Baby Shawl Possesses Princely Qualities
Plum of London is proud to announce its collaboration with the English Lace Mill who manufactured Prince George’s Baby Shawl. Based in Nottinghamshire, the family owned business has been creating beautiful and exquisite lace knitwear for many established British brands including Jaeger and Laura Ashley. The alpaca baby shawls and ladies scarves marry the almost infinite list of benefits and qualities that alpaca yarn brings with the craftsmanship and knowledge of the English mill, resulting in totally unique and exclusive alpaca knitwear products for Plum of London. Read more about the English Lace Mill who manufactured Prince George’s Baby Shawl in the Telegraph’s Fashion section.