In South America, the vicuña's natural habitat, their fleece is called the "fibre of the gods", a "golden fleece" not dissimilar to the object of Jason's quest, in Greek mythology.
In the Inca civilisation, which started around 1200 A.D., vicuña fabrics were reserved for their kings and the seasonal sheering was a ceremony involving the whole community. Following the Spanish colonization, these animals were hunted so intensively as to greatly reduce their number.
By 1965, they had reached the negative record of only 5000 living specimens, and the Peruvian government took steps to establish natural reserves for this endangered species – offering incentives for the application of newbreeding methods on large ranges and prohibiting the sale of vicuña wool. Thanks to this action the species is no longer in danger of extinction.
The Peruvian government has also created an international consortium for the distribution of the vicuña fibers, and two production plants that are a fundamental resource for the population of the Andes. Zegna Group is associated to the cosortium that is authorized to distribute vicunas fibres under control of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).