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Once an exclusive preserve of Europe’s royal families, today the noblest of wool is taken to an exceptional level of refinement, driven by Loro Piana’s passion and partnership with a selection of visionary breeders in Australia and New Zealand.
Pursuit of Excellence
Wool is the oldest and best-known fibre in the world, and to this day the one from the Merino sheep is unrivalled in quality and touch. However, if it were not for one man’s desire to preserve a unique treasure of nature, The Gift of Kings® as we know it might not have been.
In 1975, Franco Loro Piana advised his sons to keep hold of a few lengths of Tasmanian®; the fabric the company had previously created using 17 microns Australian wool. This was an incredible standard of fineness for the time, and Franco Loro Piana feared that such a beautiful raw material would soon no longer exist, as many farmers considered abandoning it in favour of a more intensive production of decidedly lower grade wool.
Pier Luigi Loro Piana, driven by the same passion for the rare and precious as his father, began to travel around Australia and New Zealand, taking up the challenge to promote the most superlative wool, endorsing the local farmers producing it with an annual award: The Record Bale.
The award was initiated in 1997, and ever since breeders in Australia and New Zealand compete for the very best merino wool. The Record Bale prize goes to the two finest bales produced each year. While four million bales of wool are auctioned, only a select few are qualified to enter the challenge. If a bale beats the existing world record for quality and fineness, it is considered a World Record Bale.
The Record Bale is not an end in itself, but a way to encourage woolgrowers to keep pursuing the very highest standards, breeding outstanding flocks, and producing ultra fine wool of the utmost quality. From this research The Gift of Kings® has become a reality.
From Raw to Remarkable
Merino is a special wool, and special care needs to be taken of the animals who produce it: they require a suitable environment along with experienced growers who are completely dedicated to their demanding work.
At one with nature, the growers personally take care of each individual animal. Their farms are magical places, set in the unspoilt countryside, nestled among rivers and waterfalls, forests and rocky sea cliffs. Here, every sheep is closely monitored, and its fleece lovingly cherished.
Each grower has a story, and each farm its own methods, but they all share the knowledge that by taking care of, monitoring, and respecting the animals and their habitats, they will reward you with outstanding wool. Only the greatest commitment to excellence from men and women who are truly passionate about their work will result in a product fit for a king.
Innovation in Nature
The Merino sheep is born to withstand the most extreme of elements thanks to its exceptionally designed coat. Loro Piana uses this natural innovation, and harnesses the naturally crimped texture and insulating qualities of the fibre, to make garments suited for any season and climate.
Merino sheep each produce about one kilo of wool a year. In both Australia and New Zealand, animals are sheared in the spring, respecting their natural life cycle. Seasoned woolgrowers can make an estimate of the fineness of a sheep’s fleece just by looking at it. It might sound like a superpower, but according to the growers it is “just” experience.
The Gift of Kings® measures around 12 microns in diameter. This pristine wool is only available in extremely limited qualities, 3000 kilos a year, compared to the 500 million kilos auctioned annually in the region.
Each year Loro Piana purchases this extraordinary raw material and uses it to make a range of the fine, crease-resistant, durable, and ultra-light products. A regal offering for those who, just like Loro Piana, are passionate about true excellence and the sensation of wearing the best of what nature has to offer.