Interview – Pier Luigi Loro Piana

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Timeless elegance-Recently I had the immense pleasure of watching the Loro Piana Carribean Super Yacht  Regata in Virgin Gorda, the British Virgin Islands.  The boats are complete masterpieces;  with the smalllest boat being 23 meters and the largest 61 meters you can imagine the atmosphere!  At dinner I was sitting next to the truly inspirational visionary-  Mr. Loro Piana, the CEO of  the Loro Piana Group. The  Loro Piana family started working with textile fibers in the valleys of Biella, Italy in 1812. Now into their sixth generation they have around 140 stores worldwide and  are the leaders in the luxury market.   As a great fan of the Loro Piana clothes  I wanted to find out more about the brand’s philosophy and how they came to the idea to organise superyacht regatas

1) As one of the top leaders in the luxury market and a 100% family owned business- what is luxury for you?

Luxury is uncompromising quality. Precious, functional items that will last forever.

2) Would you say that your clients are loyal to you as they are looking for the best quality, timeless design, rather than following trends? You follow the desires of your clients- How would you describe your typical client and what is essential to him/her?

Our customers are quality addicts, constantly searching for uncompromising quality and yes! they prefer to enjoy and invest in timeless elegance products which are classic- contemporary. They are men and women aged 30+, have a sound experience of wealth, professionally and socially active who travel the world both for business and leisure. Our clients go for the best in each and every aspect of their lives, and treasure our products that last a lifetime and more. Moreover, they are fond of outdoor sports and nature, just like us!

 3) What are the essentials for any man’s wardrobe?

A double breast blazer, a white shirt and of course a super soft Baby Cashmere sweater.

4) I know that you are a passionate sailor. When did you come to the idea to organize Superyacht Regattas and how come? What is the minimum size of the boats that can participate and tell us which has been the largest so far ?

We hosted our first Regatta in 2002 called the 3 Golfi in the picturesque sea of Capri in the Mediterranean. Sailing and the sea have always been two of my family’s greatest passions and I do actively participate in regattas. In line with the family’s authentic enthusiasm and company values, sailing represents the search for technical perfection in harmony with nature. For us, the sponsorship is about communicating the philosophy of our Company. It brings together people who truly love nature and yachting. Moreover these regattas are also great test-grounds for our products, as well as moments of joy and the occasions of meeting some of our customers and friends. Through a deep understanding of this activity, we design and produce garments that seek to satisfy the specific needs of the sportsman: always searching for the perfect union between aesthetics and functionality. Boats that participate to our Regattas are super yachts measuring no less than 80 feet, it’s hard to say  what has been the largest boat so far but I can tell you that Twizzle, which participated to the last edition of our Regatta in Porto Cervo, impressed me for its huge size: 57,5 meters. It is undoubtedly the biggest boat of the last 3 Regattas we hosted.

5) Investing in one clothing item that lasts a lifetime over buying many lesser quality items. Is this your philosophy? Would you say that Loro Piana clothes last a lifetime?

Loro Piana clothes are made to last. We are not a fashion brand, of course we provide our clients with a contemporary style but highest quality thanks to the best raw materials, comfort, elegance and functionality are the key aspects we pay attention to. They are made to last but one has to take care of them!

6) Is a Loro Piana look “low key” or is it becoming a recognizable statement of less is more – understated luxury?

We never liked to show off, so we prefer to maintain a low yet exclusive profile. We always pursue timeless elegance and discrete luxury.

 7) You had an exclusive contract with the Peru government in 1994 to buy Vicuñias, a relative of the llama that live in the high altitudes of the Andes . They were near extinction and you were chosen by the government to reintroduce the fabric into the international market to give incentive to breed the animals.

Indeed and we are really very proud f it. For many years, Loro Piana has been developing a relationship with the Peruvian government.

In 1967, the Peruvian government created the first 6,500 hectares re-population area in Pampa Galeras for the first carefully controlled restocking program.

In 1976, the CITES, the Washington bureau that regulates trade of endangered animals, categorized vicuna as one of the vigilantly protected species in which any trade was forbidden. Since the 1980’s enlivened by the desire to bring the Fibre of the Gods to the market, we made the first contact with the Peruvian Government and the communities of Campesinos. In 1987 Peru successfully requested that CITES earmark several vicuna populations for the international fabric trade, making use of the fibre obtained from live animals. At the same time the local Campesinos were granted a life interest in the vicuna and received an income from legal shearing.

In 1994 the ‘Sociedad Nacional de Criadores de Vicuna’ in its search for reliable partners to implement the project, under the aegis of the Peruvian Government, called an International Competition of merit. Loro Piana, at the head of a consortium, gained the honour to re-introduce the monitored and legally sheared fibre in to the world market, it was an exclusive right valid for 10 years.

Even if the species is now no longer in danger and the repopulation has been successful, we still have to take care of these rare and delicate animals and our involvement keeps on growing over the years.

This material is so special because, besides being beautiful, it is extremely fine (between 12 and 13 microns compared to 14/15 of the best cashmere; 1 micron = one thousandth of a millimetre), soft and really rare (each animal produces no more than 250 gross grams of the fiber) and that makes it also very exclusive and precious.
How do you go about looking for the best materials? Any other countries where you do similar things?

Our secret is the selection of the best raw materials available which we painstakingly source and select directly from the local breeders. Loro Piana has a direct presence in all the major markets where raw materials originate – such as China and Mongolia for Cashmere and Baby cashmere, Australia and New Zealand for fine Merino wools, Peru for Vicuña and Myanmar for Lotus Flower.

Vicuna in Peru

9) Loro Piana does a home range as well. Describe your ideal home?

Cozy, elegant, comfortable and….refitted with Loro Piana Interiors fabrics, the line we launched in 2006.(see below). When we project our houses we are often inspired by boats actually: we normally have big common areas -for dining and chatting – and smaller bedrooms

Dedicated to those who have become acquainted with the Loro Piana qualities over time, Interiors is a line of home fabrics conceived to dress one’s spaces with the same intimate elegance one dresses with. The fundamentals at the base of Loro Piana Interiors are: quality without compromise, research for the best raw materials in the world and rigorous controls during each step in the manufacturing process.

We guarantee a personalized service so any client can pick our items to embellish their houses, private jets or their yachts: they can choose the fabric and color that matches better with their furniture and the environment. Our range boasts over 600 fabric variants to upholster padded furniture, curtains and decorative elements that can be customized in terms of colors and patterns to match throws, blankets and carpets. Moreover, the fabrics undergo special treatments that grant top resistance and easy care while preserving their softness, lightness and comfort.

10) What are your next projects?

We are going to make a very important economic announcement at the end of this month of May about our further involvement with the Vicuna. Just an example to say that we constantly continue to research for the best raw materials in the world.

Concerning our future strategy we plan to keep this position by maintaining access to the best raw materials in the world, ensure excellence in the choice of raw materials when designing and producing our range of items and promoting the knowledge and appreciation of true quality amongst our discerning customers, now and in the future.

11) Please share with us your favorite classical music pieces?

I actually live jazz music: my favorite song is “My song”, a beautiful tune from Keith Jarrett which impressed me so much that I gave the same name to my boat.

 12) Favourite travel destination and best restaurant you have been to?

I love the sea so my favorite destinations are enchanting islands in the Mediterranean sea like Li Galli, Ponza, Sardinia where I host my Superyacht Regatta every year in June but also Greece offers marvelous places. Best restaurants for me are Tripoli in Portofino where you can eat delicious lasagna and Maria Grazia Restaurant in Nerano, in the Amalfi coast, that prepares an excellent pasta with zucchini. Every year I also go back to Ponza, the Island where we got married, and celebrate at Acquapazza. Cannot miss it!

13) Favourite city?

There are so many beautiful cities in the world. Rome and Florence are gorgeous, they represent history, culture and Italian beauty. Of course I love New York where I used to work a week every month and Paris, both magic cities. Not to speak about how lively Shangai is becoming.

Below Loro Piana clothes for him and her

www.loropiana.com

Check out the upcoming June Regata here: http://www.loropianasuperyachtregatta.com

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