What exactly is Vicuna | Unravelling the mystery of vicuña | The Gold of the Andes

A South American camelid, the Vicuna is one of the most expensive animal fibers on Earth. 

Known for its strength and softness, vicuña hair has been woven into luxurious fabrics since ancient times. 

The Incas believed that it was a gift from Viracocha to help them against the cold Andean climate; they wore garments made with this fabric as protection against the freezing winds and icy snowstorms. 

In modern times, these same properties make Vicuna an excellent choice for luxury winter clothing - but what exactly is it?

What is Vicuna Wool - The most expensive suit fabric in the world

The first question to answer is what is a Vicuna, to summarize both points, let’s hit you with a quick list which should answer all your questions:

  1. Vicuña wool is one of the most expensive types of wool in the world (it’s worth more than gold)

  2. The vicuna is a wild South American camelid, that lives in the high Andes mountains

  3. It's illegal to hunt and kill vicunas because they are endangered animals

  4. They have long, soft hair that can be spun into fine yarns for sweaters and coats

  5. This type of wool has been used by many cultures throughout history including ancient Incas and Egyptians 

  6. There are only about 100,000 vicunas left on Earth today due to hunting

So Vicunas (or in Spanish vicuña) are a relative of the Camel, and their wool is considered to be the highest quality wool out of any animal. They are often referred to as “vicuña Peru and Vicuna Chile” - as it is mainly the Peruvians who are known for creating it. It is also the national animal of Peru - and appears on their coat of arms.

A Brief history of Peruvian Vicuna

Inca royalty was permitted to wear it, and as many as three million vicuña once roamed the rocky terrains of the Andes. Vicunas are part of Inca history, and only royals were permitted to wear their fleeces or to kill the animals. 

When Spanish conquistadors arrived, they made guns a primary method for obtaining “the silk of the new world” which lined King Philip II's divans--and when shearing became more common in centuries that followed, vicuñas were hunted instead of shorn as well.

This led to a huge decrease in Vicuna numbers, and now they are endangered. There is a government programme in place in Peru known as “Chacu” - this labels all the yarns which have been created legally, and ensures that the animal itself is shorn and then released back into the wild.

There is still a huge illegal portion of trade, but the real fashion houses such as Kiton buy 100% Chacu Vicuna Peru.

How much does Vicuna cost and Why is vicuna wool so expensive?

The main reason that Vicuna is so expensive is that it can only be gathered from an adult Vicuna once every 2 years. They are also endangered and often killed and stripped of their pelts. This drives the legal trade of Vicuna higher and higher in price. 

Each Vicuna only creates about 0.5kg of wool every 2 years.

The cost of one yarn of Vicuna is $1800-$3000 depending on a couple of factors.

A good place to start would be a Kiton Suit.

Is Vicuna wool treated?

Due to its incredible sensitivity to chemicals, Vicuna Wool is normally left untreated, and will therefore retain its original color. What color is Vicuna Wool naturally, you might ask, well the graceful, exotic animal has long white fleece that hangs from its lower flanks and the base of its neck. The vicuña is covered with a remarkably long, fine, soft coat that varies in color from light cinnamon to pale whiteness. 

Why is Vicuna so desirable, and what properties does it have?

People often desire fine fabrics, and Vicuna is one of the finest fabrics there is. But if it’s fine, is Vicuna also warm? It also has scales on its hollow, air-filled fibres which trap and insulate air. This essentially means you can wear a thinner coat and still be warm. This is what makes it such an incredible and unique fabric compared to others. If you want to read about other suit material fabrics, and which one may be best for you, check out our article here.

Vicuñas have some of the finest fibers in the world, at a diameter of 12 μm. Cashmere goat fibres, on the other hand, are 14 to 19 μm, while The angora rabbit measures at 8 to 12 μm, while finally that of shahtoosh from the Tibetan antelope, or chiru, is from 9 to 12 μm. 

What animal has the softest wool?

Peru's national animal, the Vicuna, is the softest of all woollen fibers. A Vicuna is a more elegant cousin of the llama, a 1.8 m tall domesticated beast from South America. There are a few other rare fabrics, such as Mohair.

How expensive is Vicuna compared to Cashmere or Wool and Is vicuña softer than cashmere?

About 12 tonnes of Vicuna is produced every year, compared to 25,000 tonnes of cashmere. Per kilo, Vicuna can cost up to $600, whereas cashmere is about $85. Obviously wool is the cheapest, and only costs about $6. Therefore Vicuna is about 10 times more expensive than it’s closest comparison point, cashmere. Vicuna is softer but also warmer than Cashmere, hence why it's considered to be a better fabric.

“It is seen as the finest and most luxurious of these fibres and it’s very exceptional to see 100 percent vicuña as it’s so expensive.”

Pascaline Wilhelm

If you're instead curious about the highest quality leather in world, crocodile, read our interesting post here

Where can I buy Vicuna Camel designer clothes for a good price?

Also known as a camel blazer or camel hair blazer, IsuiT - Italian Luxury has a fantastic collection of Vicuna.

Although it is very rare to see real, legally-produced Vicuna, for your eyes only (and because IsuiT is a dealer in such fine fabrics) here’s a collection of Kiton Vicuna, just for you, which can be bought from IsuiT at a great price:

How much is a vicuña suit?

Vicuna suit

Vicuna Blazer brown KitonA camel hair double breasted blazer

Kiton Vicuna Blazer

Vicuna Overcoats and Coats from Cesare Attolini 100% Vicuna

Cesare Attolini Vicuna Overcoat

Cesare Attolini Jacket Vicuna

Cesare Attolini 100% real authentic vicuna overcoat from italy