The Story of Pacastyle
It began when I was visiting family in Peru. I remember I was in Arequipa when my auntie handed over a gift to me, a hat made from alpaca wool. I can distinctly recall the first time I touched it. It was so soft, light and exuded quality, it felt like it should be stroked rather than worn. My auntie smiled and said:
‘Sobrino, esto es la calidad de la alpaca.’
‘Nephew, this is the quality of the alpaca.’
I treasured that hat because it felt so good and looked good too. When I got home I packed it away in a safe place rather than flinging it with all my other clothes. The months passed by in England and autumn drew to a close, the weather changing just as the clocks went back an hour. I woke up one particular cold morning, springing out of bed to turn on the heating because I could see my own breath. I got changed for work and opened the door for my morning walk to the train station. As soon as it opened the cold came gushing in so I grabbed my coat but, before I stepped out, I remembered the alpaca hat. I ran upstairs and put on the hat before setting off.
It is about a twenty-minute walk from my house to the train station and in that time the seeds of an idea were planted. Within 5 minutes of walking, my allegedly high-priced winter coat was rendered useless due to the biting cold. Yet my head was perfectly warm: in fact, it felt snug and cozy. My fingers got tired of getting cold in my coat pockets and I felt myself sticking them underneath my hat and they too began warming up. ‘This hat is amazing’, I thought. I’ve had many a wooly hat in my time, pretty much all from the usual high street chains at the local shopping centre, but this hat all the way from Peru was different because it actually succeeded in its primary function, to keep my head warm. Unlike my coat, unfortunately, which had failed terribly.
When I finally got to work, I couldn’t get this experience out of my head. I stared at the beautiful alpaca hat given to me and began Googling. I searched for ‘alpaca’ and soon realised I’d need to pick this up at lunchtime, as there was so much information to read. In fact, lunch wasn’t enough. I began reading on my phone about the alpaca but most importantly the wonderful properties of its fleece. I couldn’t stop, and when I got home I just carried on. I read about it being a luxurious fibre, that it was extremely warm. And that brought about more questions like ‘why?’ This lead to more searching and reading where I encountered that the Inca civilisation considered the alpaca clothing as valuable as gold. Well, who wouldn’t if it would keep you warm during those cold nights in the sixteenth century? Yet the fleece was also lightweight to wear and soft on the skin, which intrigued me because I would expect something really warm to be thick and bulky. But it was none of those things.
It took a couple of weeks of letting this information buzz round my head until finally it distilled into a conclusion. I realised I loved this yarn so much because of two things. These two things are two of the principles that Pacastyle is founded on: Quality and Nature. It is also principles I share in my own life.
It blows my mind that there is a fleece out there that has kept people warm through centuries, is hypoallergenic and even flame resistant! This is a high-quality material, certainly better quality than most of the clothes that are made from something man-made, like polyester, and even warmer than a lot of other types of wool. This wool is special.
I concluded with nature, well, because nature is wonderful. This beautiful fleece that nature provides is one of the highest quality fleeces on earth and it keeps people warm. Through their habitat in the Andes the alpaca had to develop a warm coat to survive the Andean winters. Alpacas themselves are actually an environmentally friendly animal.
The winter well and truly arrived in the UK but by then I knew I wanted to create something of quality that came from nature. I went back out to Peru but this time to learn more about the alpaca fibre first-hand, speaking to farmers, producers and those that knit the yarn. It was important to me to learn as much as I could to help inform my decisions. Finally, on a plane back from Jorge Chavez airport I decided that I would take the plunge and provide alpaca knitwear to people who want it. If they shared the common belief in nature and quality then they’d probably like what I offered. And so ‘Pacastyle’ was born. It felt right, and continues to feel right. In fact it feels great and I’m proud to be able to offer this wonderful knitwear to you all.
The final principle that Pacastyle is formed by is style. Style is important to me. We all want to look and feel good in the clothes we wear and that was something I want to always be a part of Pacastyle knitwear. I feel that style and quality go hand-in-hand and that is a good thing.
So here we are today. The journey continues but I thought it was important to let you know where it began and what Pacastyle’s principles are.