In 2016, Kris Cody was traveling through Peru and became fascinated by alpaca fiber, which he describes as softer than cashmere, warmer than wool, moisture-wicking, and hypoallergenic. A year later, he released the first Paka sweater on Kickstarter, raising more than $350,000 in 30 days.
Cody and the Paka team then spent the next five years working with Peru’s Indigenous Quechua people to develop the fiber with new functional and sustainable blends and designs. To showcase the value of the fiber, Paka created a clothing line of sweaters, jackets, shirts, socks, and joggers for men and women that the company sells through its website.
Now, the Paka CEO and founder wants to share the benefits of alpaca fiber with more brands, and is selling its new PAKAFILL alpaca insulation to other companies in the marketplace. Cody describes PAKAFILL as more sustainable and animal friendly than other insulation materials, while also testing warmer than any synthetic.
PAKAFILL is what earned Paka an Outdoor Retailer Innovation Award at the OR Snow Show in January. The company made quite a splash at OR because of its award, but also because of the live alpacas it hosted at its booth during the show.
“Alpacas are sweet,” Cody said. “They’re normally timid, free roaming in the Andes, but they can be friendly if they have a lot of human interaction. It’s hilarious to me how cute, goofy, and insanely rugged they are at the same time.”
Paka works directly with Peruvian NGOs and was named Best for the World 2022 for the second year in a row as a Certified B Corp, with a 124.4 impact score.
To demonstrate the material’s function and the jacket’s capabilities, Cody personally field tested PAKAFILL by summiting 17,913-foot tall Yanapaccha in the Andes Mountains.
So far, the market appears to be intrigued with the innovation – when Paka debuted its lightweight PAKAFILL insulated puffers, the product sold out in 30 minutes.
And following the Innovation Awards, other brands have reached out to find out more about PAKAFILL. Paka is currently having conversations with several brands.
“It’s been amazing to see brands like Ralph Lauren, Cotopaxi, Simms, and Black Diamond be interested in using PAKAFILL in their products,” Cody said. “We’re very excited to enable other brands to utilize this insulation. The outerwear industry needs more sustainable options, and this is a great first step.”