From premium cashmere to vicuña, the quality of the final fabric starts with a meticulous selection of the world’s most precious fibers. Here follows a short guide to our top selection.
Words by Jennifer Papa
In today’s world, it’s easy to lose one’s grip and be swept away by the wave of mass-market trends and ever-changing consumer preferences. But for those who’d like to stick to an ethos with quality, craftsmanship, and authenticity at the core, there are and will always be rays of light.
It goes without saying that Loro Piana is at the apex of the world of fine fabrics—and has been for over a century—elegantly balancing modern techniques and trends while keeping true to the roots of its products’ origins and craftsmanship. All of the fabrics produced by Loro Piana perfectly represent the brand’s unfaltering commitment: to provide luxurious, elegant, and enduring textiles.
The quality of the final fabric starts with a meticulous selection of the world’s most precious fibers, including cashmere from Hircus goats in the regions of Mongolia and Northern China and fine wool from the dark-colored merino sheep of New Zealand.
High up in the unspoiled mountainous regions of Mongolia and Northern China, where winters are extremely harsh, lives the Hircus goat. This goat’s undercoat of fine, soft fibers reduces thermal osmosis to a minimum. The cashmere wool is gathered by means of a delicate and completely harmless procedure performed only once a year. Each goat produces no more than 250 grams of this silky and extremely precious and fiber, and, once the coarser outer fibers have been removed, as little as 100 grams remain. To make a finished overcoat, the fleece from about 30 goats is required. The result is an incomparably soft and lightweight garment that keeps its owner lusciously warm during winter cold.
The finest and most exclusive fiber on earth comes from a petite and graceful member of the camel family, the vicuña, an animal that lives wild in the high alpine areas of the Andes Mountains of South America. With its tawny-brown, ultra-soft fleece, the vicuña was sacred to the Incas, and only royals were allowed to wear garments made from it. Like many other prized animals, the vicuña fell victim to the greed of invaders and was heavily hunted for its precious fleece. Today, the vicuña population has recovered to approximately 300,000. Vicuñas produce only small amounts of their extremely fine and highly prized wool and can be shorn only every two to three years. And, because the animals live only in the wild, they must be captured to be shorn. The color of the fleece varies from a light honey color to golden brown. Although the fiber is feather-light, it is has an extraordinary ability to retain body heat.
Contrary to what most people believe, the original color of most sheep bred in times past was dark brown. But, as man discovered the possibility of dyeing wool in a rainbow of colors, white wool became favored and selective breeding for the white sheep rapidly took place. As a result of their genetic heritage, dark-colored lambs are occasionally born from a white ewe, but most breeders never use their wool—hence the origin of the term “black sheep.” Fortunately, however, for fabric connoisseurs, Loro Piana hasn’t dismissed the value of dark-colored Merino sheep. The company has, in fact, brought it back into the limelight. Today, Loro Piana is the sole buyer of dark fleeces from New Zealand. The wool of the merino sheep, extremely strong and resilient, comes in an array of natural tones ranging from a variety of browns to majestic black.