Inside the process of making the world’s best textiles by Loro Piana

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Courtesy of Loro Piana

An hour and a half drive northwest of bustling Milan, Italy’s undisputed epicenter of fashion, lies Roccapietra, a population of 639, nestled in the verdant foothills of the Italian Alps. What the village lacks in physical size it quietly makes up for as the home of the Loro Piana textile factory.

The luxury fabric maker is the real wizard behind the figurative curtain of the fashion world, which would undoubtedly be made of cashmere and Loro Piana wool if it really existed. For an average of five days, around 100 employees working in three shifts at the Roccapietra mill raise the cashmere and wool fibers as they twist and turn through a mix of machines. The finished yarns ultimately become textiles that Loro Piana and many other prestigious fashion houses, tailors and couturiers rely on for their designs.

Long before customers swaddle themselves and their homes in Loro Piana cashmere and wool, the production process begins in the farthest corners of the globe. In a once-in-a-lifetime event, herders in Mongolia and northern China comb the soft inner coat of baby Capra Hircus goats aged 3 to 8 months, producing a single ounce of delicate fluffy strands to be woven into Loro Piana’s signature baby cashmere.

Courtesy of Loro Piana

A sweater can use up to 19 ounces of the prized fabric and cost up to an ounce of gold. In the spring, breeders also collect the soft white underfleece of adult Capra Hircus, which, by comparison, annually yields about 7 ounces of raw material. The cashmere is cleaned locally and inspected for impurities, such as hard-to-die black hair, then double-checked shortly before batches are shipped to Roccapietra in bales or jumbo hessian bundles.

Courtesy of Loro Piana

Vicuña raw wool and merino wool arrive in Italy in the same way from three countries in the southern hemisphere. What is known as Loro Piana’s famous Gift of Kings wool comes from a special strain of merino sheep bred in Australia and New Zealand. The vicuña, a camelid that is a distant relative of the llama and lives wild in the Peruvian Andes, can only be shorn every two or three years. Each vicuna produces approximately 8 ounces of fleece. The difference between merino wool and vicuña wool – considered the rarest animal fiber in the world – “is only visible under an electron microscope”, explains Mauro Morello, director of the factory. United States. He adds: “It’s like tasting a good wine and a very, very good wine.

Courtesy of Loro Piana

If the raw wool and cashmere are the grapes, the scientists at the Quarona factory in Loro Piana, a short drive from the Roccapietra mill, are the sommeliers. These experts methodically analyze fiber samples at the microscopic level to determine whether cashmere and wool shipments from the five countries meet the company’s strict standards. “The lab takes a sample to verify the quality value of virtually every bale,” notes Morello. “The lab needs to find all the quality values ​​like fiber fitness and length and also verify that the fiber is the same as the one we purchased.”

Once approved, the cashmere and wool are then ready to be blended for several hours in a giant blender. Tumbling the fibers with water and oil adds moisture, opens up and mixes the raw material until it takes on a light, soft consistency similar to clumps of stretched cotton balls.

Courtesy of Loro Piana
Courtesy of Loro Piana

The fiber wads are projected through pneumatic tubes towards cards, where they are disentangled and cleaned. Using technology that hasn’t changed since the
In the early 1940s, raw material is fed into the mill’s oldest machine which gently processes the fibers into continuous diaphanous sheets resembling sails that roll along hundreds of wooden rods and wind into drums. metallic. “Good material goes in and out of the machine, and bad material,” dust and other impurities, “falls to the ground” as the sheets move forward, Morello says. The machine repeatedly folds the cleaned individual sheets into an increasingly thick, but still delicate, cloud-like mass of fibers that resembles a long and very expensive foam cushion.

A spinning machine twists this mass of fibers into strands to create yarn. The process is so precise that once the yarn is in its final shape, the machines checking the bobbins automatically cut out any strands with imperfections and fuse them back together. Expert eyes in the laboratory then check the yarn again to ensure that no unacceptable defects still exist.

Courtesy of Loro Piana

Once finished, some of the yarn is woven into fabric on looms and processed at the Quarona mill with a multi-step finishing process. Workers wash the fabric and extract the delicate fibers and mechanically shave the material so that the surfaces of the fabrics are of uniform length.

The Fall 2022 issue of GRAZIA USA will be available for purchase at newsstands nationwide in October. Send an e-mail to [email protected] to register.

The knowledge needed to make Loro Piana the brand internationally recognized as the pinnacle of textile manufacturing has been developed over six generations. The Loro Piana family began working as wool merchants in the early 19th century, and Pietro Loro Piana eventually established his eponymous company in April 1924. His nephew, Franco Loro Piana, took over the reins in 1941, and he specializes in the supply of wool and cashmere textiles. to the nascent haute couture industry. From 1970, his sons, Sergio and Pier Luigi Loro Piana, ran the business and focused their efforts on collecting the rarest materials as they built the luxury side of the brand that LVMH had bought for 2, $6 billion in 2013.

Courtesy of Loro Piana

The value of the company is evident in the care that workers continue to bring to the art of textile production, right through to the final stage. “At the end of the process, we carry out another check which is called fine repair”, explains Gianni Gnemmi, who operates the finishing department at Loro Piana. “Every meter of textile is inspected and every small imperfection is eliminated.” About 80 experts painstakingly remove discolored fibers or repair tiny tears in the fabric, a process that typically takes five hours for 100 yards of fabric.

On a recent day at the Quarona factory, a giant bolt of magenta textile woven with the interlocking L and V logo and Louis Vuitton floral pattern sat near a mechanical loom turning beige and brown colored yarn into a similar fabric for the fashion house. These and up to 25,000 square meters of immaculate textiles that roll out of Loro Piana’s factories daily will end up as a line of luxury goods. Many will fall under the Loro Piana label – bright, sunny yellow Loro Piana Interiors cushions and blankets at Splendido Mare, a beachfront Belmond hotel in Portofino, Italy, and lattice-patterned aprons waiters wear in the restaurant The property’s DaV Mare, plush, understated cashmere sweaters from the Loro Piana brand line the shelves of chic boutiques in Tokyo, New York and around the world.

Courtesy of Loro Piana
Courtesy of Loro Piana

Loro Piana’s meticulous textile manufacturing process, perfected and refined over time, ensures that fabrics bearing the brand’s label are fitted at every stage of the process as they slowly transform from fleece to their final form. “There is a saying: we have to follow what cashmere wants,” says Morello. “It is impossible to increase the speed of production.” With Loro Piana, it turns out you really can’t rush perfection.

The Fall 2022 issue of GRAZIA USA will be available for purchase at newsstands nationwide in October. Send an e-mail to [email protected] to register.

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