The Importance of Suri Luster
Luster is a term used primarily for suri fleece and fiber. It is the luster that truly differentiates a suri fiber from any other. Once the fiber is off the suri alpaca and in the fiber processor's hands, the lock structure makes no difference at all, but the luster is what makes suri fiber so special when it is processed into garments. Luster refers to a relective quality the fiber possesses quite possibly because the scales on the hair shaft lie flatter giving a smoother fiber that reflects more light. The luster makes the alpaca look silky and or even wet.
Luster in the suri fleece should be evident throughout from head to tail as this single factor alone contributes to the increased value and desirability of its silky fibers for use in the textile industry. The luster and softness of the fibers evolve from the smooth scale structure (cuticle) of the alpaca fiber.
Luster is probably the single most important characteristic of suri fiber. This is the primary reason that the textile industry purchases 250,000 - 300,000 kilograms (550,000 - 660,000 pounds – or about 300 tons!) of suri fleece each year. Suri fiber is often blended with merino wool or a blend of suri and cashmere to add luster to the world’s finest sheep’s wool.
On the world market, the suri fleece is in high demand for its luster and hand (or softness) for the high fashion textile markets, and today commands a price double that for huacaya in purchase for crude fiber and for processed tops.
Updated February 16, 2011