In the late 90s a crisis was slowly gestating in Argentina. An economic balance among several other factors was about to trigger a chain reaction that would drown the South American country into one of its worst scenarios. It was during this time that the Mazquiarán family came up with one of the craziest – and groundbreaking – ideas the Patagonia has ever seen: The use of Guanaco wool.
What's a Guanaco? Well, if you have ever seen a Llama, a Vicuña or an Alpaca you might have a close idea. They are the emblematic animal of the Southern Patagonia, a species of the native fauna of this region, and is a carrier of one of the main precious fibers worldwide. They came from North America two million years ago and became the cattle of the South American tribes or "Chonik": Patagones, Tehuelches, Onas and Yamanes. It is estimated that around 6 million guanacos existed throughout Patagonia at the beginning of the 20th century.
Today, about 2 million of this species inhabit the region, which translates into that 95% of the guanaco population lives in Argentina, and of these 90% live in Patagonia according to data collected by specialists on American camelids from the IUCN.
The Mazquiarán family called their most recent endeavor “GuenGuel”, which translates from Tehuelche language into “White Belly”, a common characteristic of the Guanaco. It was born out of a hunch they had while shearing Merino sheep. “What if we sheer a Guanaco?”. Well, this seemed not only as a joke, but also as an impossible task as well. Guanacos are known for their wildness and strong character. One would rather sheer a Puma instead, but the brothers didn't backed down, and the sent the recovered fiber to a lab to see if it was worth using. The surprise they had when seeing a report from that study got them motivated to develop a project no one had never even dreamed of.
Results showed that the Guanaco fiber from its wool was 15 microns thick, making it the second most precious fiber in the world – after the Vicuña. Even the best sheep wool from around the world gets a value from 26 to 21 microns, making it heavier and less soft. Guanaco fiber is not only extremely lightweight but also maintains body heat at an astounding rate. It makes sense, since the Guanacos live in the wild, where temperatures can drop down to -20° Celsius in the midst of the Patagonian winter.
For 20 years, GuenGuel has been dedicated to research on how to make the best use of this animal's fiber, developing the process and technology necessary to obtain and produce the precious raw material used to make one of the most important fine garments in the world. They have the technical and practical knowledge to carry out this unique activity, also achieving during the process the protection of this native species of Patagonia and therefore the conservation of such region.
Thanks to the incorporation of all its production systems within the Organic Certification scheme, GuenGuel can commercialize the products under the status of "Full Organic", allowing to take advantage of an important unsatisfied demand of extra-fine fibers in the international market. Throughout its 20-year career, GuenGuel has accumulated awards and recognitions that certify its work as a minimum impact, in addition to demonstrating its commitment to the well-being of Patagonia.
Now, in the XXI Century, GuenGuel is in excellent conditions to generate increasing and predictable amounts of high quality Special Fine Fibers, produced in the Argentine Patagonia. It has the legal permits of the organisms of control of wild fauna, and of the official organisms of planning of the development, for the set up of the breeding and sustainable operation of the Guanaco. It made the digital jump into the 2.0 world and now boasts a multi—platform venture that uses Social Media, E-commerce website, a blog and an Inbound Marketing strategy to spread the word about the Guanaco and its importance to the whole continent.