Our founder and designer, Daphne Benzaquen, is a native of Peru. During a trip to the large Peruvian city Arequipa, Daphne became intrigued by two of the country’s sustainable resources: llama leather and baby alpaca fur.
Alpaca Fur and Fleece
Alpacas have a rich history in South America's Andean mountains, dating back over 6,000 years when their fur was yielded and reserved for Incan royalty. This can be attributed to the the superior features of the alpaca, including warmth, strength and water resistance. Baby alpaca fur has been prized for centuries.
Baby Alpaca fibers, named after the fineness of the fiber, not the age of the animal, are hand-selected for their superior softness.
In Peru, alpacas are raised so that their fleece can be shorn year after year providing a livelihood for ranchers. Since the alpaca fiber industry is such a big enterprise, alpacas are raised in a manner in which promotes long life spans and is as cruelty-free as possible.
Culturally, Peru has a unique perspective about raising alpacas. Veterinarian services are rare and expensive for most Peruvian alpaca ranchers. Peruvian alpaca breeders are looking for the strong alpaca to achieve maturity, in order to create a strong herd for the future. This is why they offer very little preventative care for young alpacas.
It is not practical or ethical to kill alpacas simply for their hides, because there is so much economic benefit by shearing them for their fur. There's a prohibition in effect against killing Alpacas for their hides. Our producers use the hides of alpacas that have died of natural causes to make our clutches.
Sometimes young animals die naturally due to sickness, extreme weather changes, genetics, or an accident. This is a costly loss to the rancher. They minimize their loss by using the alpaca for food and its pelt.
Compared to the market leader, cashmere, alpaca fleece and fur have a smaller environmental footprint and a more sustainable product lifeline. And, by using the highest-quality natural resources, we are creating products with superior water resistance, elasticity and flexibility.
Alpaca are extremest enviornmentally friendly. They produce high fiber yields with less food and water resources.
The lightweight and long-lasting fiber has exceptional breathability to keep you comfortable in various climates.
By introducing llama leather to the U.S. market, daph. is providing an alternative that is lighter, more durable and 15 times stronger than cattle leather. It is also noticeably lighter making our handbags lighter, more durable and long lasting than handbags made of cattle leather.
The majority of our pieces are handcrafted with 100% Peruvian pima cotton. Softer and more absorbent than any other type of cotton, Peruvian pima cotton is the world’s finest, prized for its exceptional durability, softness, and brilliant luster. Unlike most commercial cotton, Peruvian pima cotton is harvested entirely by hand. This careful hand-harvesting results in a brilliant white shade of whole cotton, which dyes beautifully and feels soft and smooth against the skin. And, since it’s hypoallergenic, pima cotton is an excellent choice for people with skin sensitivities.
Working with ancient techniques passed from generation to generation, the artisans are able to transform their families and communities, using their unique handiwork as a bridge to economic independence.