Retail Refugees

The Loro Piana brand and spectrum
August 7, 2009, 11:25 am
Filed under: Fashion, Market Info | Tags: , , , ,

When one speaks or thinks about luxury products in general, cashmere is one of the most commonly referenced items.  Cashmere sweaters, blankets, scarves, gloves, suits, etc…  And one cashmere brand that stands out from the rest is Loro Piana.  With their cashmere coming exclusively from the belly hair of the most precious mountain goats in Mongolia. In an recent article from the Wall Street Journal, the Co-Chairman of the brand Pier Luigi  Loro Piana “speaks with pride of the company’s vertical control—from Mongolian sheep-shearer to Manhattan cardigan. At Loro Piana factories, workers known as menders use tweezers to pick out small impurities from fabric. Only two flaws per 50-meter piece are allowed, below the industry standard of five flaws.”

Aside from the obvious quality and prestige of the brand whose eponymously branded sweaters can run as much as $1000 per piece, the article discusses in detail how Loro Piana has become the “go to” supplier for cashmere for a number of lesser priced brands including J. Crew.  “J. Crew is a mass brand with broad middle-class appeal, but Mr. Drexler has been working to upgrade its clothes’ quality. Loro Piana was one of the first new producers he hired in an effort to switch to more luxurious textiles—part of a turnaround he credits with attracting the brand’s highest-profile customer, Michelle Obama. “We focused our efforts on the best in the categories we were in,” he says, referencing J. Crew’s Thomas Mason shirt fabrics among others.”

What does this mean exactly for brands like Loro Piana?  Well, in my opinion I think it is fantastic.  “Hip” consumer culture has become obsessed with the idea of “collaboration” and “joint products” merging brands that exist in completely different segments (ie. Monocle & Beams) and through protecting their image even after entering partnerships with lesser brands, brands like Loro Piana are maintaining their exclusivity and ultimate value.


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