Secrets of the house


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Habitat – Brothers Pier Luigi and Sergio reveal five secrets of the house of Loro Piana, which was established in 1924 having grown from a family business which started in the textile district in northern Italy, Trivero, in the early 19th century, and is now aimed at social responsibility in its working practices.

Lotus flower fibre
In September 2010 the high-end luxury clothing brand Loro Piana announced the “discovery” of a natural and antique raw material, never used in the textile industry of Western countries to date – the Lotus flower fibre (Nelumbo Nucifera). Extracted from the stems of the sacred flowers which grow naturally on Burmese lakes, this extraordinary raw material has an unmistakable morphology, similar to perforated tape.

Through the cooperation with the local population, the development of this project gives Intha natives the possibility to work in their ancestral environments, so this very antique tradition will not be lost but, on the contrary, becomes the means to support future generations. “The Lotus flower gives an extraordinary aquatic fibre which I would define as Summer Vicuna for its exclusivity,” explains Pier Luigi. “The quantity today is really very limited but we hope our long-term project will allow increasing it so that locals may improve their quality of life in harmony with the natural environment.”

Loro Piana has acquired an area of more than 2,000 hectares to be converted into a private reserve to safeguard the vicuña, a species that was once in danger of extinction. Sacred to the Incas, these animals were revered in pre-Columbian times when more than one million vicuñas populated the Andes. Due to poaching and illegal hunting the vicuña numbered only 5000 at a headcount in 1960.

In the 1980s the Loro Piana brothers signed their first contact with the government and the communities of Peruvian breeders. In 1994, the Italian company won the competition of merit held by the Sociedad de Criadores de Vicuña (Society of Vicuña Breeders), under the protection of the government. This allowed them to help save the species through the re-introduction of monitored and legally sheared (on live animals) fibre in to the world market. The high value attributed to the fibre has created a primary economic resource for the people, with the added incentive of benefiting the protection of the breed.

“Through this further direct involvement – establishing the future reserve – a new stage has begun. This will allow us to carry on protecting the species and making the lives of local farmers easier, and to continue to guarantee consumers the absolute quality of our products,” remarks Sergio Loro Piana.

Baby cashmere
The year 2006 saw the arrival of Baby Cashmere made exclusively using fibres coming from the first combing of Hyrcus baby goat aged 3–12 months.

In order to survive the harsh winters and torrid summers of the mountainous regions of Asia – particularly Mongolia, where Loro Piana has been buying the unrivalled cashmere since 1997 – these baby animals develop an extremely fine undercoat consisting of fibres with a diameter about 13 microns (1 micron = 1 thousandth of a millimetre) that does not exceed 80 grams in gross weight.

Creative persistence, spanning over a 10-year period from 1995 to 2005, has made it possible to encourage Mongolian and Chinese breeders to set aside small quantities weighing approximately 30 grams at each first and only “combing”. Loro Piana specialists set out from Beijing and Ulan Bator to shepherd country where they meet the shepherds personally to conduct negotiations and follow ancient rituals that fully respect local traditions.

The record bale
To promote quality by supporting breeders in their pursuit of excellence, the annual Loro Piana World Wool Record Challenge was introduced in 2000. The competition is between the best Australian and New Zealand bales produced in the course of the previous year; The Challenge Cup is awarded to the finest bale of the two nations. This invariably sets an annual record, which is often also a world record. This year the World Record Bale is the finest wool ever produced to date.

Every Record Bale is archived by Loro Piana. Entries must comply with specific weight, length and strength standards. A bale weighs on average between 90 and 100 kg, which is also the minimum lot that can be transformed into fabric, suitable only for a few dozen made-to-measure suits. Clients who have already bought a Record Bale article can exercise a “pre-emption right” on their following purchases.

According to Pier Luigi “this award goes to the professionalism, to the skills and the passion so typical of these farms. Thanks to their constant efforts, the wool industry can count on quality and fineness, which was unconceivable ten years ago.”

Water Management and Eco-friendly Production
The jewel in Loro Piana’s crown is its water purification system, which discharges water used in the dyeing process into the river near the Quarona mill with a degree of purity far greater than the minimum required by law. The purification process takes place in a series of stages through a process of biological oxidation. Colonies of bacteria kept alive by constant oxidation carry out the crucial task of breaking down the chemicals in the water into simpler molecules.

Subsequent sedimentation makes it possible to separate the residual sludge from the clean water, which overflows and is channelled into two final treatment lines where it is further purified by passing through three active carbon filters. It’s a simple yet highly effective system that demonstrates yet another dimension of Loro Piana’s guarantee of all-round

From the Glass Archive – Issue Four


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