We’ve spent a lot of time on the trails of the eastern United States, which means we’ve spent a lot of time in clothing that clings, chafes, smells, retains water and lets the lightest breeze through. With 45 years in the textile industry, we didn’t just think there could be a better solution – we KNEW it. After 8 years of research and 3 years of development, we’re ready to introduce a brand new class of performance fabric.
Made from 100% alpaca fiber, the All-Paca Shirt is engineered by nature, designed for the trail, and manufactured in the United States. It’s a shirt that lets you spend less time worrying about what you’re wearing and more time enjoying the outdoors.
We’ve combined our years of experience in both textile manufacturing and trail hiking to design a garment that is high performing and comfortable in a variety of conditions. This is the first ever lightweight performance shirt made from 100% alpaca fiber.
1. 100% Alpaca fiber is knitted into a unique Jersey fabric that provides exceptional strength and recovery.
2. The shoulders and neck are designed with covered seams for added performance and comfort.
3. Lightweight construction ensures this is a shirt you'll never hesitate to throw in your pack.
4. The shirt is side-seamed to prevent torque and twist that lead to awkward, misshapen garments.
5. The “Regular Fit” style is not too snug and not too loose. It looks great and allows for a full range of motion.
6. The shirt is cut with a slightly longer tail to provide coverage and allow for a free movement.
Most technical fabrics today are blends of polyester and nylon. Basically, your shirt is made of plastic – no different than a plastic bag or bottle. These materials must be chemically treated to wick moisture and feel comfortable against your skin. Not to mention that after a few washes, you could douse your favorite performance shirt in fabric freshener, and it’s still going to smell like you just ran a marathon through a landfill.
Alpaca fibers were engineered by nature. Alpacas come from the Andes Mountains, where weather conditions can vary dramatically. They have specifically been bred for their fiber, which has been used by different cultures in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile to make cloth for thousands of years.
Many of these benefits are similar to merino wool, but alpaca fibers are softer, stronger, warmer, and retain less water than wool fibers. Additionally, most commercially available merino wool is either blended with synthetic fibers or is chemically treated to make it suitable for lightweight garments. Alpaca fiber has natural features that combine to create a material that is perfect for a comfortable garment that performs under extreme conditions.
Over the past 30 years, we’ve watched apparel-manufacturing leave the United States. With this new venture, we’re in a position to do something about it.
While the fiber will be responsibly sourced from a yarn producer in Peru, the actual fabric and garment will be entirely created in the United States. By producing the fabric in our own facility in Charlotte, NC, we’ll be able to:
- Have better oversight of the manufacturing process
- Ensure the production of a higher quality garment
- Respond to technical challenges more efficiently
- Develop innovative materials and new garments more quickly
- Create American jobs in the future
- Ensure employees have a safe working environment
- Ensure employees are paid fair wages
Our plans for Appalachian Gear Company are to continue to develop performance-based products for people who love outdoor activities of all kinds. We will utilize All-Paca, our 100% alpaca fabric, as well as other materials that provide performance and value while minimizing environmental impact. We will manufacture all of our products in the USA because we believe it’s important. There are more exciting products on the drawing board that we can’t wait to share with our early supporters.
John Gage and Mike Hawkins started their careers with different Fortune 500 textile manufacturing companies and, for over 25 years, they've been friends and business partners in various entrepreneurial endeavors. They've developed and produced fabrics for different industries and many well-known apparel brands. They saw American textile apparel manufacturing eventually lost to offshoring, but they always hoped to re-enter the apparel industry. They are now able to do that with Appalachian Gear Company's first product, the All-Paca Shirt.
"We came up with the idea to utilize Alpaca Fiber as we were brainstorming ideas for performance fabrics with less environmental impact than polyester and nylon. We also wanted a fabric that would improve upon the benefits and production methods of Merino wool," John Gage.
The primary challenge in developing the All-Paca fabric – a lightweight 100% Alpaca fiber fabric with no harsh chemical processing and no synthetic fibers blended into it - was that this type of fabric had never been successfully produced in a form that could be used for performance fabric or active wear. There was no blueprint to guide the way.
"It took us 3 years of researching, purchasing machinery based on a hunch, and experimenting with the entire process. We had to customize the fiber specification, yarn specification, machinery set-up & procedures, and even numerous individual pieces of the machinery we had purchased. Each time we thought we had it mastered, another barrier would present itself. We thought we were defeated many times, but we finally succeeded and are proud to introduce All-Paca to the world."
We’ve put in the upfront work to get started making All-Paca shirts. We’ve invested in the equipment, developed a process to make the material (no small feat!), and produced patterns. Now, it’s time to take our shirts into full production. As a new product, we need to prove the demand. With your support, we will be able to secure a large order of yarn, run the machinery to produce the material, and have the shirts cut and sewn.