Have you been a victim of fake Alpaca? You might not know it, but you probably have. That beautiful jacket you bought at the market for $30 at Plaza San Francisco or in Otavalo, probably does not have one strand of Alpaca fiber in it. I learned the hard way and bought my whole family "Alpaca" jackets and at the time I was with my friend, Luca who also bought 5 or more Alpaca jackets to bring back to his family in Germany. We were so excited to find Alpaca jackets for $30! I've now come to realize that they are nothing more than 100% Acrylic. Just because it's Ecuador, don't think twice that Alpaca jackets or blankets will go for as little as $15 to $30. They simply aren't Alpaca, and real Alpaca jackets will set you back $100+, but how do you know for sure it's real Alpaca, just because of the price? Keep reading...
What I even find more bizarre is that the care tags say they are 100% Wool or 100% Alpaca Wool which is totally not true. This is really the biggest scam I have ever come across living in Ecuador, but what do we know. Maybe, they believe it is Alpaca too. So, what is the secret of how to tell a real alpaca garment from a synthetic fake in Ecuador?
There are a few ways that you can tell:
- Touch it - Alpaca wool is cool to the touch, acrylic is warmer.
- Pick it up - Alpaca wool is quite a bit heavier than synthetic.
- Check the inside of the garment - When acrylic is brushed it is smooth and soft on the outside and appears much more like alpaca (really it does). The inside is usually rougher. Many high quality products (not all) do not have inner seams.
- Any super bright colors are going to likely be synthetic. Many alpaca products are made in the natural color of the wool, or only dyed with natural dyes, which are more muted and never fluorescent orange, chartreuse or magenta in color.
- Try burning it - Alpaca wool will burn into ashes and have a farmlike smell whilst synthetic material will get hard and not burn at all, it also smells bad!
I am not hating on the vendors, but for the Alpaca fiber to be as beautiful as it is, you should really know what you are buying especially is they are presents for friends and family.
Hope you learned something with this blog post and will consider this when buying Alpaca wear in Ecuador!
Over and out - Nick