From the Eter­nal City, PIER LUIGI LORO PIANA de­liv­ers fash­ion with her­itage for Loro Piana, writes CALVIN WANG

#Legend - - THE FACE -

THE WORLD OF lux­u­ries has al­ways been dom­i­nated by mak­ers that of­fer time­less­ness, be it in their watches, their art, their fur­ni­ture or even in their clothes. Ac­quir­ing the abil­ity to of­fer time­less­ness re­quires pas­sion, ded­i­ca­tion and lead­er­ship that places the high­est value on her­itage – just the traits shown by that finest of Ital­ian cloth­ing brands, Loro Piana.

This year marks the 85th Pi­azza di Siena showjump­ing com­pe­ti­tion at Villa Borgh­ese, in Rome. For 24 years,

Loro Piana has been one of the lead­ing spon­sors of the com­pe­ti­tion. The longevity of the part­ner­ship is a sign of the pas­sion Loro Piana has for eques­tri­an­ism and the depth of its in­volve­ment in the sport. In the lounge at the com­pe­ti­tion venue, #leg­end en­coun­ters Pier Luigi Loro Piana, the guardian of the brand, who paints for us a pic­ture of the world as he sees it.

He wears a light, dou­ble-breasted jacket and car­ries a brief­case made from a sail that once caught the wind that

pro­pelled his boat. He points at the brief­case and says:

“It’s not just about new­ness. I like ev­ery­thing to have a story, a her­itage, some­thing mean­ing­ful to your­self.”

Loro Piana the com­pany was founded in the 1920s by Pi­etro Loro Piana, Pier Luigi’s un­cle. It be­gan by trad­ing in fine fab­rics. As chil­dren, Pier Luigi and his brother Ser­gio be­came im­mersed in the fam­ily busi­ness. “My fam­ily was a typ­i­cal en­tre­pre­neur­ial fam­ily in Italy,” Pier Luigi says. “Italy re­ally only restarted af­ter the Sec­ond World War in the 1960s. What I in­her­ited from my fa­ther was re­ally the spirit of be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur and I never doubted my­self in suc­ceed­ing.”

The brothers joined the com­pany in the 1970s and even­tu­ally took over the fam­ily busi­ness. They were of one mind that time­less­ness, lux­u­ri­ous­ness and the preser­va­tion of its her­itage were the qual­i­ties the brand should strive for.

For Pier Luigi, the im­por­tance of time­less­ness is il­lus­trated by his first watch, a wa­ter-re­sis­tant Rolex.

“When I was young, I re­mem­ber one of the items I wanted badly was a Rolex,” he says. “When I turned 18, my fa­ther gifted me this watch that I had de­sired for a long time, which I still wear un­til to­day. A good watch is time­less, just like the phi­los­o­phy of our brand, as well. I be­lieve in the time­less­ness of aes­thet­ics.”

So how does Loro Piana give its de­signs time­less­ness? It’s dif­fi­cult, see­ing how fash­ion houses nowa­days in­vent new trends ev­ery six months. Pier Luigi stands aloof from this fran­tic scram­ble. He takes the buyer’s per­spec­tive, choos­ing to de­sign clothes that are more un­der­stated yet more pre­cious. “The look is never some­thing we are af­ter, but we ap­proach it as if we are rein­vent­ing clas­sics,” he says.

Peo­ple of­ten think clas­sic means old and out­dated – mis­tak­enly, in Pier Luigi’s opin­ion. “If you rein­ter­pret clas­sic beauty in a con­tem­po­rary way, it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean

fash­ion, but rather some­thing re­lated to the cur­rent world we are liv­ing in.” he says. A jacket made in the 1990s and re­made this year may have the same gen­eral look but the rein­ter­pre­ta­tion may re­flect a new way of us­ing the ma­te­rial, the em­ploy­ment of new technology and, of course, the over­ar­ch­ing trends of the mo­ment.

The key to time­less­ness is the ap­proach of a brand to help­ing its cus­tomers find ways to be them­selves and to com­mu­ni­cate their per­son­al­i­ties. “I don’t be­lieve in in­vest­ing for your wardrobe in some­thing that you only wear for four or six months,” Pier Luigi says. “We love the idea that you wear a jacket from your fa­ther, or the fact that you can iden­tify that that jacket has been around for 30 years just from the la­bel.”

In striv­ing for ex­cel­lence, Loro Piana com­ple­ments the time­less­ness of its clothes with lux­u­ri­ous­ness by us­ing pre­cious ma­te­ri­als which it buys from all over the world. This prac­tice be­gan when Franco, Pier Luigi’s fa­ther, was in charge. While looking for ma­te­rial in Peru in the 1950s, Franco found a vicuña farm. He be­gan work­ing with deal­ers in vicuña wool to cre­ate fab­rics softer than cash­mere.

The vicuña is hard to do­mes­ti­cate, so wild an­i­mals are cap­tured and shorn of their wool. The Loro Piana sup­ply of wool dried up when the species was threat­ened with ex­tinc­tion and the Peru­vian gov­ern­ment banned the shear­ing of vicuñas. When the Peru­vian au­thor­i­ties be­gan a project to re­gen­er­ate the vicuña pop­u­la­tion, Pier Luigi and his brother in­vested in the scheme.

Pier Luigi is pas­sion­ate about sav­ing the vicuña. He says that first a re­serve was es­tab­lished for vicuñas and that, later, ef­forts were made to shear the an­i­mals an­nu­ally. Care­ful man­age­ment dou­bled the vicuña pop­u­la­tion in four years, to 2,000. “We man­aged to find a for­mula for dou­bling the pop­u­la­tion ev­ery four years and, fur­ther­more, we cre­ated jobs in the area as well, with this project.”

Loro Piana played its part by com­ing up with many dif­fer­ent uses for the wool. De­mand for vicuña coats was so great that the maker found it dif­fi­cult to get suf­fi­cient wool to make the fabric thick enough. To­day, the vicuña is an im­por­tant as­pect of the iden­tity of the brand, the com­pany hav­ing shared in the suc­cess of the project to re­gen­er­ate the species. Loro Piana is “spe­cific in the way we utilise technology to rev­o­lu­tionise clas­sics”, Pier Luigi says. “Pre­ci­sion and per­fec­tion are what we strive for.” One example of the re­sults of this ap­proach is the new Horsey rid­ing jacket, which Loro Piana is mak­ing in lim­ited numbers. The Horsey is made of a fabric that is lighter than usual, and more softly and qui­etly pli­able when worn, so it causes the least pos­si­ble dis­trac­tion to a rider or his mount.

An­other example is an in­side pocket made of a nanocoated fabric which pre­vents the es­cape of much of the ra­di­a­tion emit­ted by a mo­bile phone. “These are the new ways in which we’ve com­mit­ted our­selves to work­ing with new technology and au­to­ma­tion, striv­ing for per­fec­tion, while never jeop­ar­dis­ing qual­ity,” Pier Luigi says.

A re­minder of Loro Piana’s core val­ues. “Pas­sion­ate peo­ple make pas­sion­ate clothes, thought­ful peo­ple make thought­ful clothes and, for us, we aim to make the brand a pas­sion­ate and thought­ful one.”

“Pas­sion­ate peo­ple make pas­sion­ate clothes, thought­ful peo­ple make thought­ful clothes and, for us, we aim to make the brand a pas­sion­ate and thought­ful one” PIER LUIGI LORO PIANA

Above: lim­ited-edition Horsey rid­ing jacket

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