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The fine difference of excellence: how to recognize Pima cotton garments?

To understand it, first we must know it, so let’s go back to its origins.

This plant was domesticated and cultivated by the ancient Peruvians and had extremely important influences on textile development in the introduction of weaving techniques 3,000 years ago. Different pre-Inca civilizations spread the various techniques of weaving (embroidery), dyeing (plant pigments and fibers of natural color), and drawing (mythical characters and geometric figures) in the Andean region.

With the passage of time, garments made with pima cotton presented different properties that attracted the eyes of different markets worldwide. Now we know that the microclimate, the soil, and the seed have made Peruvian pima cotton the most valued in the world for its fineness and for possessing the longest fibers.

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THE BATTLE FOR THE TITLE OF SOFTEST FLEECE: BABY ALPACA AND ALPACA

There are more than three million alpacas in Peru, made up of two distinct varieties: Huacaya (which have fine spongy wool) and Suri (which have soft shiny wool). The former is the more numerous of the two (accounting for 93 percent of the population).  These camelids can measure between four and five feet in height and they are sheared with knives or shears using a special technique to avoid causing the animal pain or discomfort.

The most sought-after alpaca clothes are those made using a combination of two different types of wool:

The first of these, “Baby alpaca” wool, is obtained exclusively from the initial clipping or shearing of the alpaca, which is usually carried out when the animal is two years old (so not necessarily a baby). Clothing made using this wool is heavy, lacking in sheen, very cold (it can seem damp at times) and feels silky, oily and a little greasy to the touch (it slips and slides between the fingers). This latter quality is due to a grease the alpaca produces called lanolin. These types of garments also have the characteristic of adapting to the temperature of the body, which means they are perfectly comfortable to use in both winter and summer.

The second type of wool, “alpaca” (as opposed to baby alpaca), is obtained from the second and subsequent shearings of the animal. It comes in more than 25 natural colour shades and is less soft than baby alpaca (feeling slightly rough in texture). However, it is extremely hard wearing and emerges from the production process with its sheen intact. One of alpaca wool’s special qualities is that it is both warm yet cold to the touch and also a little on the heavy side (though not as heavy as baby alpaca wool).

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UNRAVELLING THE STORY OF KNITWEAR!

There is an ideal outfit for every season, and what better way to welcome in the autumn and winter than by wrapping up in some elegant and stylish knitwear. Usually made with wool or cotton, it is manufactured in such a way that it feels handmade (when stretched out, you can see tiny gaps in the fabric). The texture of the knitwear can vary depending on the needle thickness (this determines the size of the knit), as well as the pressure applied to the fabric or thread during its creation.

This is one of the oldest forms of making clothing, knitted socks and tights date back to 11th century Egypt, or even earlier according to some studies. In Europe, knitwear formed a part of daily life from the 14th century onwards, proving particularly popular in Great Britain and Scandinavia, especially among fisherman. In 1816, the first circular knitting machine was developed in England (perfect for underwear), and at the same time, fashion magazines began to heavily promote knitwear. By the beginning of the 20th century, these garments had become even more popular, with sporting and casual styles coming into fashion, as an elegant and functional way of dressing. Over the next century, different styles began to flourish, creatively combining colours, with sweaters becoming very popular among women.

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Pima cotton and Egyptian cotton: what makes them special?

Throughout the world, there are different varieties of cotton used for production in the clothing industry, but only one is considered the richest in terms of its characteristics, in addition to providing greater comfort to the wearer, giving the satisfaction of being, without a shadow of doubt, a high-quality textile garment, resilient and highly valued around the world.

In a previous post we talked about the exclusivity and technical details of this fibre. We are talking about “Pima cotton” which shares a common bond with another prized fibre, “Egyptian cotton”. Both are intended purely for production of high level textile garments for the world’s most demanding industries.

Both their histories converge with the introduction into Peru of Egyptian cotton which came from the State of Arizona in 1918 (originally an Egyptian Mit Afifi type). This seed adapted perfectly to the climatology and the land type in the Piura region, producing a fibre with unparalleled and unique varieties.

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How to identify an alpaca garment?

First, let’s identify what an alpaca is. Alpacas are mammals that have been around for thousands of years, as their presence dates from pre-Inca cultures.

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Pima Cotton: the best in the world

The Pima Cotton is harvested on the northern coast of Peru by hand, a process that allows to differentiate the qualities of cotton.

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#Whomademyclothes ?

Graciela Huam is a Peruvian Dutch fashion brand inspired by both countries, our garments are hand woven by Peruvian artisans using the method of knitting. Our materials: 100% Peruvian alpaca, baby alpaca and pima cotton raws, which are ideal for the production of high quality garments due to their durability, versatility and fineness.

Graciela Huam Knitwear perfectly combine different types of stitches, reliefs and designs, which mesh perfectly in order to create high fashion garments, unique and exclusive, that will allow you to stand out with a chic, sophisticated and prêt-à-porter look.

Our team works with Andean communities and cooperatives that are gathered in associations that govern their work activities through the Fair-Trade policy that promote a voluntary and fair trade relationship between producers and consumers.

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Knowing the origin of our knit garments

Alpaca is an “auquenido”, they are mammal of the order of the camelid. These are original species from Peru and Bolivia.

The Alpaca has a size of 90 centimeters and measures 1-1.40 meters long. It weighs on average 80 kilos. The head is small, the forehead broad and flat. The ears are very mobile, directed forward when they are watching and Backwards when running when being persecuted. The eyes are large, very expressive, with kind and timid look. The fur is soft and ideal for the production of clothing. Their coat is mainly white, gray, brown or black.

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