ITALIAN METHOD BOOSTS QUALITY
Luxury clothing brand Loro Piana is assisting Chinese goat breeders to produce better wool. reports.
China is known for the quantity of cashmere it produces, but not necessarily for its quality. But that is changing as local brands and breeders shift their focus. Italian luxury brand Loro Piana, a key name in the apparel industry, has also joined the effort.
In November, two couples from among the herders in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and other areas in China — Shi Yushe and his wife Wang Cunxiang, and Zhan Fayu and his wife Li Juying — received the Loro Piana Cashmere of the Year Award in Beijing, based on the fineness, length and other attributes of their cashmere.
Separately, the brand is promoting the Loro Piana Method of producing cashmere, which is a system of selective breeding that can improve quality, in Inner Mongolia’s Alashan.
The method, which was devised and introduced in 2009 as part of a joint project among the company, the Jilin Agricultural University in China, the University of Camerino in Italy and the Italian Nation-
al Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, is now being taken to other areas in the Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions.
Explaining the rationale behind launching the project in China, Pier Luigi Loro Piana, deputy chairman of Loro Piana, says: “We believe that cashmere is one of the best materials for a modern lifestyle. And China is the country that produces the best cashmere in the world. We wanted to start with the best.”
China, which is also one of the largest cashmere producers in the world, besides being one of the largest overseas markets for the brand after the United States, was seeing environmental degradation as a boom in the sector since the 1980s had led to pressure on the country’s environment thanks to the growing number of goats.
Further, Loro Piana says the key factor for the brand to maintain its position as a top name in the cashmere sector is to ensure quality at all levels.
From left: Loro Piana’s CEO Fabio d’ Angelantonio, breeders Zhan Fayu and his wife Li Juying, herder Wang Cunxiang and Loro Piana’s deputy chairman Pier Luigi Loro Piana at the award ceremony in Beijing.
“The key factor for our success is quality. So we do not compromise on it. And we always do research to offer a better product to our customers.”
Loro Piana says the brand’s customers are addicted to good quality. “It’s like someone who likes good wine. The wine may be very expensive, but the consumer is hooked to the quality, and that is what we want.”
In recent years, the company, which is known for its light-weight fabrics for suiting, has been pushing boundaries by using cashmere for luxury casual wear like skiing jackets, sailing vests and water-proof cashmere coats.
Meanwhile, despite the general slowdown in China’s luxury sector, the company had a good year in 2016 and is expecting an even better year in 2017, says Loro Piana.
“We continue to grow steadily … I am not worried about what is going on now. China will continue to grow. Chinese consumers are becoming more quality-conscious.
“In the end, China will probably be the country with the highest growth,” he says.
Loro Piana also wants more people to participate in the upgrading of the cashmere industry in China as it is important for the country from the point view of image.
It can also help create better opportunities for young locals, he says.
“Young people don’t want to remain on the land like shepherds, but they can be breeders and they can manage the territory like the Australians.
“There are young guys who want to live in the country rather than go to a crowded town.
“We have to think of the next generation. And this project (the Loro Piana Method) can offer hope to the next generation.
“Also, when quality improves, the value (of the product) rises, and you have more revenue,” he says.
Contact the writer at sunyuanqing@ chinadaily.com.cn