By  on September 18, 2009

NEW YORK — Loro Piana, the understated Italian luxury brand, is set to make a high-profile move on Madison Avenue.

Sources said the company, known for its cashmere and vicuna, is taking over the former La Goulue restaurant space at 746 Madison Avenue, between 64th and 65th streets, to build a flagship.

The store will be much larger than the existing Loro Piana unit on Madison Avenue between 68th and 69th streets, which opened in 1993.

Loro Piana declined comment.

In addition to its own stores, the Loro Piana collection is sold at retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

In a tough environment for luxury, Loro Piana seems to be stepping out. For New York Fashion Week, Sergio and Pier Luigi Loro Piana unveiled a book on their trademarked “baby cashmere” fabric entitled “Baby Cashmere — The Long Journey of Excellence,” which is being sold in Loro Piana stores worldwide. It is filled with photographs of the Mongolian landscape and the Loro Piana brothers’ annual journey to Asia to secure the best raw materials.

Loro Piana reported that 2008 revenues grew 1.4 percent to 426.3 million euros, or $627 million at average exchange, as sales of Loro Piana’s luxury products, like cashmere sweaters and wool suits, helped compensate for a decline in textile sales. Loro Piana is major supplier to other top fashion brands.

Pier Luigi Loro Piana, co-chief executive officer, who also serves as president of the Milano Unica, said last week at the trade fair, “The Italian textile industry has touched the bottom of this crisis, and we are on track to recuperate lost ground. At the same time, our sector has resisted and hasn’t lost momentum of offering new fabrics.”

He said industry experts estimated orders for 2009’s second half to yield between a 20 to 50 percent drop compared with 2008.

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