Sumaq Alpaca Rugs exhibit at COVER Connect New York

Sumaq Alpaca Rugs will exhibit at COVER Connect New York at The Altman Building in Manhattan on 25-27 September 2021. Register to attend.

Canadian company Sumaq Alpaca Rugs, founded by Derek Beech and Collis Verdicchio in 2010, reveals its unique selling point in its company name. Its sumptuous rugs are made not with sheep’s wool, but with luxurious yarns made from the fleece of Peruvian alpacas, native to the high altitudes of the Andes mountains in South America.

Rug by Sumaq Alpaca

Alpaca fleece was known as the ‘fibre of the gods’ to the ancient Inca, who reserved its use for royal clothing. These cutest of camelids were more valuable to the Inca than gold or silver. In the 21st-century alpacas are equally valued, not only because of the inherent qualities of their fleeces, but also because they are environmental superheroes.

Fibre spun from alpaca fleece is a natural insulator; it retains heat when it is cold and has cooling properties when it’s hot. It is strong, breathable and naturally hypoallergenic. Alpaca fleece has a low grease content, which means fleece washing uses less energy and fewer chemicals—far fewer than synthetics require, including so-called environmentally friendly fibres like bamboo silk. Alpacas’ soft cloven foot pads don’t churn up the landscape or compact soil like hoofed sheep and goats, and the animals gently nibble grasses and plants; they don’t rip plants from the ground as they graze.

Derek Beech and Collis Verdicchio

Spreading the news of these virtues is a central tenet of Sumaq Alpaca Rugs. ‘We’re not only retailers, we’re educators and advocates for alpaca fibre and fur,’ says co-founder Derek Beech. ‘The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 taught us that high-quality natural products have become top of mind. People are spending more time at home and consequently we’ve seen a spike in our business because they are changing their home environments.’

Sumaq Alpaca Rugs was one of the global companies that participated in the inaugural COVER Connect event in January 2021. ‘It was our first virtual trade show,’ says Beech, ‘and it was a great experience, but we must admit we miss traditional trade shows. Many of our top design clients only started ordering from us after they touched the product, so not being able to slide your hand across the super-soft alpaca fibres makes it hard for people to truly understand the superior quality.’

Detail of a Sumaq Alpaca rug

The company creates rugs from the two main breeds of alpaca. The sheep-like fleece of Huacaya alpacas is used to spin yarn for handwoven and hand-knotted rugs, while the lustrous, long, silky fleeces of Suri alpacas are used for the company’s hide rugs. Natural colours range from white to black with more than twenty hues and many tones within those colours. The Flatweave Collection is made by Peruvian artisans who use the same style of loom as did their ancestors. The weaving technique is faster than hand-knotting and creates ‘a slightly looser, yet remarkably durable texture’, says Beech. The Hand-knotted Collection is a more intensive and lengthier process resulting in increased density, detail and durability.

Sumaq Alpaca rug in an interior

Anyone who considers it immoral to farm animals for their fur will be relieved to learn that Sumaq’s Suri hide rugs are made from alpacas that died of natural causes after a life spent grazing in their natural habitat. Alpacas are far more profitable alive as they can be sheared many times in their lifespan to provide fibre for yarns. ‘Allowing the hide to be burned or buried as “waste” is senseless,’ says Beech, a belief that reflects those of many indigenous communities, where animals are honoured for their service to humans and no part of an animal is considered ‘waste’.

‘It’s this sustainable way of life that inspired our motto,’ says Beech: ‘Every rug creates an opportunity.’ Together with its farmers and artisans in Peru, Sumaq works to foster a greener, more sustainable world.

Sumaq Alpaca Rugs will exhibit at COVER Connect New York at The Altman Building in Manhattan on 25-27 September 2021. Register to attend.

Register to attend COVER Connect New York 2022

COVER’s boutique show for leading high-end rug brands returns to Manhattan from 11-13 September with a larger and more ambitious format. Register here.

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