Alpaca wool has long been a fashionista favorite. Lightweight but insular, durable, water-repellant, and resistant to pilling and even fire, the ultra-luxurious, hypoallergic fabric can, in its raw form, feel even softer than cashmere. It is popular as an environmentally friendly, cruelty free alternative to animal fur.
Decades ago, longtime friends Carmen Alfaro and John Cerullo took a vacation to Alfaro’s native Peru. The two were gifted alpaca by their hosts and Cerullo, an Elmsford resident, fell in love with the natural fiber on their trip.
In May, Cerullo, a CPA, and Alfaro, who has 30 years of experience in the fashion industry, decided to create Moda Kalon, their own line of bespoke alpaca apparel available exclusively online (with a pop-up location this holiday season in Greenwich).
Cerullo says that alpaca is unique because “the industry supports and sustains local families who make their living making the fabric, making the clothing,” says Cerullo, with Alfaro adding that it’s versatile: “It’s easy to take care of. The fabric is easy to mix to make beautiful sweaters — it can be mixed with silk, with cotton.” With regard to using animals to keep us warm, Cerullo explains: “The fabric is made in a cruelty-free way, and the whole industry is part of sustainability.”
Moda Kalon’s alpaca is harvested once a year from shorn animals and handmade in small batches, to create not only warm coats, capes, and slippers, but also light and layerable tops, brightly colored pashminas, hats, and sweaters. While many clothing is mass manufactured nowadays, Moda Kalon’s products are all made to order. Alfaro works directly with suppliers and producers to craft custom pieces for each customer.
“Clients are only comfortable when the piece fits exactly the way they want it,” Alfaro says. “Not everybody has the same size, not everybody has the same body.”
“You have to start small,” she says. “It’s a better way to communicate and supervise, and ensure the fabric is coming from [a specific] source. We’re not interested in a large production because, at the end, it’s a waste. Even if it’s a wonderful product, I don’t want to make thousands of pieces in one season and then we don’t sell it. I prefer to make specific pieces…and make sure the customers are comfortable and happy with it.”
Their pop-up shop is open until January 31 at 88 Greenwich Ave to give local shoppers a chance to see — and feel —the special quality.