The history and future of the Aymara on the altiplano has been a driving force for our clothing line made from llama fiber.
From the time we obtained llamas in 1977, we have been impressed with the llama’s ability to convert low quality forage into protein and fiber, their hardiness and adaptability, their proficiency as a pack animal, and the amazing performance qualities of their fiber. At the same time, we are dismayed that the llama is held in low esteem and is relatively obscure in their native South America.
Traditionally, alpaca fiber (a camelid cousin of the llama) has been preferred over llama fiber. From a technical standpoint, llama fiber offers advantages because of dehairing technology, the fiber’s increased insulating capacity, and unmatched performance.
The Aymara, in response to market dyanamics, have increased the number of alpacas they keep. This is problematic for the altiplano environment, particularly the drier portions and is causing significant degradation. Llamas can range farther, convert lower grade roughage, and go without water for longer periods than the alpacas so they utilize the furthest reaches of the altiplano and spread their impacts. The carrying capacity and environmental stability of the region is increased when llamas are populating it.
Creating demand for the llama and its fiber
The lack of appreciation of the llama is denying the Aymara the opportunity to fully expand their economy and elevate their quality of life while, ironically, they already possess the very means to remedy that situation. Linking the North American outdoorsman to performance clothing from llama fiber is foundational to stability for the Aymara culture and the environmental equilibrium of the altiplano region.
The Aymara have weathered years of marginal subsistence with their llamas and are being forced from this existence as the global economy encroaches. Our hope is to link the Aymara to a viable economy through the fiber they expertly produce and ultimately see their traditional culture endure.