The most expensive fabric in the world is wool, which comes from the vicuña and can only be shorn from the animal once every two to three years. The vicuña is part of the camelid family, of which the alpaca and llama are two others whose wool is also sought after and valued. However, they are nowhere in the league of the vicuña fleece. The vicuña animal is said to be the most graceful of the camelid family, and its wool is the very best.
The vicuña is not a new animal, living in the higher areas of the Andes, in South America. This wool was very valued by the Incas and is just as highly valued today, standing as the most expensive fabric in the world. Its popularity is due to it being luxuriously soft, exceptionally fine and very warm.
The price of the fabric reflects the rarity of an animal that is only shorn every 2-3 years and apparently is a little difficult to catch, being quite feral. Vicuña is approximately £2800 per yard, but one company has even woven gold into the vicuña fabric, at a cost of course, of £3600 per yard.
Loro Piana, a family run Italian luxury clothing company who specialises in delicate cashmere and fine merino, also use vicuña wool and have bought a lot of acreage in Argentina to ensure their access to this fleece. They are also ensuring the survival of this curious little animal. They recently sold much of their business to LVMH, Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton; such is the esteem that both companies are held.
There are other companies using the extremely elite vicuña wool, and this will be on many peoples ‘must have’ list.