The rarest, finest fibre in the world comes from a small member of the camel family that lives wild in the Andes: the vicuña.
With its sun-colored, ultra-soft fleece, the vicuña was sacred to the Incas, and like them, fell victim to the greed of merciless invaders. Reduced almost to extinction between the end of the Inca empire in 1572 and the 1970s, the species was systematically wiped out first by the Spanish conquistadors and then by poachers, intent on acquiring the animal’s precious fleece. The fact that the vicuña has now been saved is due in large part to the work of Loro Piana.
In 1994, a consortium led by Loro Piana signed an agreement with local communities, backed by the Peruvian government. The agreement gave Loro Piana company the exclusive honor of buying, processing and exporting vicuña in the form of textiles and finished products.
Before this agreement, there had been a lengthy ban on trade in an attempt to protect these diminutive animals from poachers. Only after the involvement of the communities of campesinos was there a turning point in the story of the vicuña. The locals were granted the right to shear the animals, yet safeguard them, while in turn receiving the proceeds of the strictly monitored shearing process.
The increase in the vicuña population, from 98,000 head in 1995 to the current figure of 180,000, confirms the success of this project and ensures that the species will be definitively saved from extinction in the future.
Credit PH and content: