What is timeless can also be radical. Loro Piana represents the height of understated, lifelong luxury, yet its Baby Cashmere project – currently celebrating a decade of this uniquely soft, light and pampering yarn – involves thoughts and actions never seen before. The special, just-released Baby Cashmere Jubilee capsule collection uses the best of the best yarn in its purest form, undyed and naturally pure white.
The overall project has taken far longer than ten years. The idea came from deputy chairman, Pier Luigi Loro Piana, who, in the mid-1990s, was already working closely with the nomadic herders and breeders in the deserts of Inner Mongolia, striving to improve the fineness and quality of their goats’ cashmere fibres. He knew that the combing from a goat in its first summer produced a super-fine fibre from the animal’s under fleece that protects them from harsh winters but is shed in the heat of summer. The herders put it in with adult fibres to boost the overall fineness, but Pier Luigi thought a yarn could be made entirely from these delicate fibres.
It was a long and difficult process. Each baby goat yields only 30 grams of fibre and it takes the yarn from 19 to make one sweater. The fibres are shorter and more delicate than adult ones, so spinning them is more complex. By the end of the first year, Loro Piana had produced less than 300 kilograms, and the next problem was persuading the herders that it was worthwhile keeping the kid goats and their fibre separately. Paying them well on the strength of a future amazing product ensured their interest, and made them feel “that they were part of an exclusive club”, says Pier Luigi. After ten years, Loro Piana could finally guarantee enough to make it worthwhile experimenting with yarns and fabrics.
Another ten years on, the annual crop is still only about 2,000 kilograms, making this one of the rarest yarns on earth, as well as one of the very finest. Loro Piana discovered that the Baby Cashmere fibres were 15% finer than the adults’, averaging 13.2 microns – far finer than a human hair. They work with herders on high-level welfare of the goats and selectively breed goats with the finest fibre, so now 13.2 is the maximum. Yet this delicate material is robust in protecting and warming the wearer; it’s like being enveloped in a cloud of down. As it protects the baby goats until the hot sunshine of their first summer, so it protects its privileged owners in the softest knitwear.
Loro Piana has chosen the purest white form of this precious yarn to make the Jubilee capsule collection. It consists of four very special pieces – a roll-neck jumper in a chunky but ultra-soft rib, an utterly exquisite, fine-knit cable sweater in a men’s or women’s version, and a plain crewneck sweater, which is a prime example of understated luxury.
Loro Piana continually refines its processing of the short Baby Cashmere fibres in other forms such as knitted jersey or woven fabrics. For the autumn collection, it appears in natural, authentic shades for a two-tone, double-layer jersey ladies’ coat with a leather sash belt, a hip-length, A-line, double-layer jacket needle-punched with a subtle pattern, a supersoft turtleneck sweater, a hooded sweater and trousers that are the ultimate in sports luxe, a hooded, reversible men’s sweater with subtle colour contrast, a hand-loomed scarf in a chevron pattern, and a double-layer men’s parka with Loro Piana’s exclusive water-repellent system. There are many uses for this fabulous yarn, proving that it is not just beautiful and the ultimate in comfort and warmth but very versatile too.