How Loro Piana’s quiet luxury cultivates Italian wanderlust.
By Harriet Quick
Succession might be over but what we are left with is Kendall Roy’s serene sense of style. The zip neck sweaters, the suede trimmed cashmere Savile coat, the polo shirts and cargo pants - he served a good Loro Piana stealth wealth look even when the dynasty was crumbling around him.
The Italian brand (LVMH bought an 80% stake in 2013 for $2.6m) seduces with soft power. Indeed, before the acquisition it was one of the few brands outside the LVMH group that Antoine and Bernard Arnault would wear. “Every summer we would go to the Portofino store and get a few polo shirts and a few sweaters. We loved Loro Piana for the quality of the product. It’s true that the style is classic and that’s what we liked,” said the company’s CEO Antoine Arnault at the time of the takeover.
The company, formerly a sixth generation family run affair, is now sailing smoothly under the stewardship of Arnault. This summer the collection is mapped around an Italian Grand Tour that begins in Piedmont (Loro Piana’s homebase), travels through Tuscany and onto to Portofino before finishing in the Aeolian islands. Pieces including a cashmere Henley sweater, the reversible silk Karlie coat and a passementerie trimmed cotton linen poncho are designed to fulfill all your vacation requirements with flair and no fuss.
As a potential fan, the only prerequisite is a nascent obsession with the tactility of natural fibres and a romance with the sporty, outdoor life. In the field of textiles, Loro Piana is an undisputed leader (one of the largest in the luxury sector) and operates a vertical manufacturing system creating everything from the yarn to the finished product. There is no star designer (this was a prerequisite laid out by the family in the acquisition deal), and that anonymity delivers a seductive halo around the brand. It eschews brand fireworks in favour of sponsorship of sailing and equestrian events and the development of an interiors arm. At Salone, it showcased a gorgeous Incas (alpaca and wool blend) covered, hand chiseled wooden frame Apacheta sofa and table by Cristian Modaded and it will also kit out your Gulfstream G600 if so desired.
The heritage of the company dates back to the early nineteenth century when the Loro Piana family became successful wool fabric merchants. By the turn of the century, it had two woolen mills. In 1924, the enterprising Pietro Loro Piana established the company name and the business enjoyed a boom in the post war years as the taste for luxury fabrics grew in both Europe and America.
Sergio and Pier Luigi (grand nephews of Pietro) took over the business as co- CEOs in the 1970s investing in state of the art production that safe guarded the company against rising labour costs in Europe. As the European textile business lost out to Asia in the 1980s, Loro Piana managed to hold its own running a network of Tuscany based factories for dyeing, spinning, weaving, knitting and finishing, seven days a week. There is also a manufacturing plant in Outer Mongolia that spins the very fine coat of the Hircus goat into what we know as cashmere while vicuna meanwhile is gathered from herds that roam the Andes mountains. There’s plenty of investment into technical fabrics like Solaire (board shorts), Horsey (jackets) that offer protection you might require out at sea or in the high noon sun. Loro Piana’s ambition is to offer the best in every category and fly the flag for its fully traceable, environmentally friendly production. If you wear any LVMH brand, its yarns are likely to have been produced by Loro Piana.
But back to that moment of summer dreaming. The idyll of a life of sporting leisure is a well spun dream. Who goes from private jet, to boat, to motoring without stopping to do some work in between? Yet the allure of the lifestyle is potent enough to lure us into those cocooning shops where time does seem to melt away. Just long enough to reward yourself with the Gift of Kings merino wool polo shirt, a Bali bucket bag and a Beausoleil bomber jacket perhaps.