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An Italian Fashion Brand Detangles Its Alchemy of Cashmere

By T: The New York Times Style Magazine Singapore

A Loro Piana cashmere sweater-dress that’s exclusive to “The Alchemy of Cashmere” pop-up at ION Orchard.
 
Loro Piana
A Loro Piana cashmere sweater-dress that’s exclusive to “The Alchemy of Cashmere” pop-up at ION Orchard.

One frigid day in the mid-’80s, Pier Luigi Loro Piana, then co-president of his family’s eponymous fashion line, traversed the desolately beautiful plateau of Inner Mongolia in northern China to visit his herd of goats. These are special, rarefied goats: The Capra hircus produces the signature cashmere of Loro Piana’s clothing and accessories. As Piana observed the herd, he wondered, “Human baby hair is infinitely softer than an adult’s. The same is probably true of baby goats.” This contemplation led to another of Loro Piana’s stroke of genius: baby cashmere, weaved from the almost-weightless inner coat of the kid, of which is only available once in each animal’s lifetime and weighs a mere single ounce of strands that average only 0.01 millimetres in diameter. A single sweater requires 19 ounces.

Loro Piana makes and supplies some of the world’s softest textiles with help from a menagerie of sheep, goats and vicuñas that are bred in their natural habitat in New Zealand and Australia. In the early ’90s, its cashmere and wool entered the luxury goods market, creating sumptuous men’s and women’s sweaters, shawls and a line of home furnishing. From the strands of wool attached to the back of its animals to the final piece of clothing, the Italian house zealously oversees each step of its meticulous production. To Loro Piana, cashmere is the plushest gift nature could bestow. 

Loro Piana“The Alchemy of Cashmere” pop-up’s first stop is Singapore at ION Orchard.
“The Alchemy of Cashmere” pop-up’s first stop is Singapore at ION Orchard.

In a tribute to the talismanic textile, Loro Piana begins a touring pop-up this month, titled after its Fall/Winter ’19 collection, “The Alchemy of Cashmere”. The installation, to be set within iconic shopping districts in various Asian metropolises, highlights the house’s intricate relationship with cashmere. 

Loro PianaInside the pop-up, a cohort of Loro Piana’s cashmere pieces.
Inside the pop-up, a cohort of Loro Piana’s cashmere pieces.

Inside, a series of images and videos exhibit the time-intensive process of cashmere-making. Giant yarn replicas of the Capra hircus goats that started it all are the shadowing columns amid the shelves of Loro Piana’s cloud-soft cashmere pieces that range from a portfolio of scarves — the brand’s first-ever, and best-selling, product — to classic sweaters and rib-knit accessories. Pieces that are exclusive to the pop-up include a yolk-yellow sweater-dress, a cable-knit sweater and louche grey tracksuits. The pop-up starts in Singapore, and is slated to travel to Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai before ending in Japan at the end of this year.

The Alchemy of Cashmere” pop-up in Singapore is held at ION Orchard until 20 October 2019.