Victorian Era - Alpaca for Clothes

Alpaca fibre was spun in England for the first time about 1808 and was condemned as an unworkable material. It was not until about 1830 that alpaca was used to make cloth for the clothing market. Cloth was then made from alpaca for ladies carriage shawls and cloaks which was sold at high prices. The garments were sought after more from being rare and curious articles than from intrinsic worth. The cloth however was no different to a cloth made from sheep wool. It failed to show off the characteristics of alpaca - the lustres and fineness whilst remaining a durable cloth. Fabrics made entirely from alpaca or from alpaca and wool lacked the beautiful sheen which gave the original fibre its peculiar quality.

Alpaca fibre was also difficult to spin commercially. The yarn produced was uneven and coarse. The true qualities of alpaca were only developed into a marketable fabric during the period 1840 to 1870 which became a Bradford monopoly.