Falling for (Sustainable) Fall Fashion | UNICEF Canada: For Every Child Skip to main content

Bundle up with lightweight warmth

Most people have heard of wool from sheep and lambs, and some people may have even heard of angora wool (from angora rabbits) but have you ever heard of the benefits of alpaca fiber?

Alpacas are a species of ‘camelidae’ from South America, and are often confused with llamas, despite being much smaller. Unlike llamas, which are bred to be working animals, alpaca’s are specifically bred for their fiber, which is used in textile work, similar to wool.

[© Bonnie Kittle / Unsplash]

Every 12 to 18 months, alpacas are humanely shorn – much like sheep – with an adult alpaca producing 50 to 90 oz. of “first-quality fiber” per sheering. Alpaca fiber is very soft, as warm as wool despite being only 1/3 the weight, and also contains no lanolin which makes it naturally hypoallergenic. Many people who have wool sensitivities find they can wear alpaca fiber without experiencing itching or skin irritation.

Making clothing and accessories from alpaca fiber is a longstanding tradition in South America, and UNICEF Market features a number of South American artisans who are carrying on this tradition. From scarves and hats to sweaters and wraps, there’s something for everyone with the Market alpaca collection.

Supporting Fair Trade and Womens' Communities

K'amolon K'i K'ojonel is an association founded in 1987 with a mission to provide assistance and support to women in Sololá who were left widowed during Guatemala's armed conflict. It began as an arts and crafts project in the Triunfo community in Pujujil with the financial aid provided by Ronald Spector. By the end of the first year, there were 100 women weavers in the project.

At first the weavers used rayon chenille but now, as an effort to promote ecological preservation, they use bamboo chenille — a better option because bamboo grows faster and does not lead to deforestation. They have also received training in dyeing techniques and the colors they use are inspired by traditional Guatemala costumes and the natural highland flora, especially that which grows around Lake Atitlán, which they regard as the most beautiful lake in the world.

Maria Ajcalón 3.jpeg

Since its foundation, K'amolon K'i K'ojonel has grown as a successful association for women run by women with 200 active members.

Women artisans in Guatemala are faced with many obstacles, most of which derived by the fact that they cannot read or write, or speak Spanish. That's why the work the association does is so important: they have achieved marketing back strap loom weaves, thus improving the economic development of the women from Pujujil.

Give the Gift of Warmth to a Child in Need

Is your closet already packed full of warm clothing for the fall? Then consider sharing the warmth with a child in need, with UNICEF Canada Survival Gifts.

During a crisis, children and their families often flee their homes without time to pack basic necessities. UNICEF’s heavy fleece-lined Emergency Blankets are always in need, helping to protect children against the elements.

These blankets are often a child’s first defense against the cold – and on occasion, the first comfort and welcome they receive, when they reach the end of their long journey.

Give the Gift of Warmth

[© UNICEF/UN042601/Al-Issa]