National Alpaca Fiber Conference: A Need to Move this Fiber into the Sustainability Sector

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The National Alpaca Conference and fashion event was held this November in Nevada. Though Reno is not my cup of tea, the event was admittedly a blast. I didn't have a lick of opportunity to do any of the workshops, but had a good opportunity to speak with farmers, designers, and the press.

The national alpaca fiber trade faces the same market challenges as the organic cotton market. There needs to be:

1.)more demand to justify a larger supply;

2.)contracts for the fiber signed in advance to guarantee purchases from farmers in order to ensure a sustainable industry

3.)more interaction through cooperative farms instead of individual suppliers

4.)more communication through the entire supply chain, especially with producers and manufacturers/designers.

5.) stronger marketing tactics that aren't so alpaca-centric and that reach into the mainstream or the nascent sustainable style industry.

The organic and sustainable cotton industries are doing a fine job in these departments. Between the Sustainable Cotton Project tours and Organic Exchange conferences, the sustainable cotton industry is budding. If the national alpaca movement, which produces some of the highest quality fiber in the world, can push into the mainstream in the same way, there will be a small, albeit strong market for the farmers involved.

here are some quick snapshots of the winning alpaca pieces created by students and some alpaca fiber stuffed animals. During my talk, I got to rock out People Tree's Peruvian alpaca knit dress. It is by far one of my favorite alpaca pieces, but can only be worn on special occassions. ;o)

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