This is Grace, the woman behind the label Graciela Huam.
She is born in Peru, but her collections are born in the Netherlands, and then manufactured in her homeland.
We sat down with Grace to have a talk about how her beautiful high quality pieces are made, and we were especially curious about the use of alpaca wool as raw material. For us Norwegians, they are quite dreamy strange and really, really cute animals, so we wanted to know a little bit more about them.
Alpaca wool as raw material
JF: So Grace, what is an Alpaca?
Grace: An Alpaca is an animal native to the Andes, where they’ve been domesticated for around 5000 years. They are in the family of the Camel, but don’t have the humps. In addition to Llamas that are also domesticated, you find two wild types, the vicuña and guanaco, who still continue to roam in wild herds today.
There are again two types of Alpacas, one is fluffy with the softest fleece that makes them like a teddy bear. The other grows silky loose fleece in beautiful locks.
The alpacas are sheared once a year, usually in the spring, before the heat of summer begins, to not make them feel uncomfortable. Since the Alpaca is such an excellent insulator, cold winters don’t bother them as long as they have their fur.
JF: What are their features, and what are the qualities that you like best with this animal?
Grace:’ For one, they are recognized globally for their soft and luxurious fiber that is lightweight, durable and has excellent thermal qualities.
But something that I like and love about Alpacas is their personality. They are smart, adorable, gentle, calm and pretty social. Many times also nervous, curious, shy and quiet.
JF: How did you end up with the idea to use alpaca wool?
Grace: I am Peruvian, and I’ve been working already for more than 5 years in sourcing, and then specializing in alpaca wool and Peruvian cotton. I am pretty passionate about natural resources and my country Peru. I live currently in the Netherlands, now my second home, and my mission is to create a connection between Peru and the Netherlands, bringing together European design with the traditional techniques of knitwear in Peru.
Our choice of raw material is key for the development of this design. With these choices we also support Peru as a supplier and we support the small farmers.
JF: How does it affect your collections and what is the impact you have when you choose this type of source for a product?
Grace: By choosing the way we do, our customers will find collections that are built on the unique combination of superb quality, innovative craftsmanship, sustainable lifestyle and traditional techniques.
We’ve already launched 4 collections with this talented team.
The impact we have is our whole ethical supply chain, but the animal in itself is a really good sustainable choice. A normal alpaca produced 2 to 2,4 Kg of fiber each year, enough to make 4 to 5 sweaters. In comparison, a cashmere goat generally only produces enough wool for 1 sweater a year.
Alpaca fiber is softer, lighter and stronger than cashmere and sheep wool, and it doesn’t feel prickly against the skin. It is also lanolin free, unlike sheep wool, which means that it holds less allergens, bacteria and dust. Also, there are 22 different natural colours, ranging from white, grey and brown to black, which means less dying of yarn.
JF: Thank you for your time Grace!
Take a look at Graciela Huams products here