NEW YORK — There was a little good-natured rivalry going on at the Loro Piana Lounge at Sotheby’s Tuesday night with the Australian and New Zealand wool farmers sizing each other up from across the room.“If you find out their secret, tell us,” laughed Pamela Sandlant of Australia’s Pyrenees Park, which won the Italian luxury brand’s Record Bale Award for producing the finest wool in the world for the fourth consecutive year. This year’s winning bale measured 10.4 microns, which edged out the 11.3-micron bale produced by New Zealand’s Visulea.“You just have to have the right sheep,” Sandlant said with a shrug, downplaying the hard work and dedication it takes to produce such a high-quality fiber. First off, the breed has to be merino, which produces the finest wool, and then the herd must be nurtured and coddled. “Those sheep are more spoiled than I am,” she said.Barrie and Yvonne Payne of Visulea were similarly coy: “We don’t give our secrets away,” she said. But like the Sandlants, they did admit to having a “passion for wool,” especially merino, which they described as “like no other.” And like the Sandlant’s sheep, she said their herd also lives the “Life of Riley.”[caption id="attachment_11065491" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The Loro Piana Lounge at Sotheby's.[/caption]On Tuesday, Loro Piana’s deputy chairman Pier Luigi Loro Piana traveled to New York to present the 20th annual award to the winning farmers. Each year, the Italian luxury brand, now a division of LVMH Group, holds a contest to find the finest merino wool from both Australia and New Zealand.He said that in the past two decades, the growers have brought the micron count down from 13.8 — “That’s close to a 30 percent difference,” he said. (For the uninitiated, a micron measures the fineness of a fiber and is equivalent to a thousandth of a millimeter. For comparison, a human hair measures 40 microns.)The 150 meters of fabric that will be produced from this wool will be used to create around 40 custom men’s suits that will retail for $15,000 to $25,000.Loro Piana added that the award provides to farmers an incentive to always keep pushing to produce finer and finer fibers. “These two bales are the best of the best out of the 5 million bales that are produced every year,” he said.[caption id="attachment_11065488" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Wool fabric made from the Record Bale.[/caption]In addition to the product made from the Record Bale, Loro Piana also offers a program called the Gift of Kings, a collection of outerwear, sweaters and scarves crafted from wool of 12 microns, which is finer than cashmere and vicuna and available in only limited quantities, or 2,000 kilos a year, he said.Although he declined to say how much Loro Piana pays the winning farmers, he said the amount is “substantial,” and encourages them to continue to push the envelope on wool.Fabio d’Angelantonio, chief executive officer of Loro Piana, said the company’s ongoing commitment to the wool industry is a testament “to the great passion that still bonds us all in this mission after so many years. We feel privileged to have such a prestigious competition in association with our brand’s name. The commitment of the company and the breeders are proof of the importance of this struggle and the sustainable supply chain for the ultimate extrafine merino wool in the world, not only in terms of fineness but of length and tenacity as well.”
For its next men’s wear collection, @roberto_cavalli will show as a special guest at #PittiUomo, running from June 12-15. The brand, which has Florence in its roots, will relaunch its men’s wear collection, which will be presented separately from women’s wear for the first time since Paul Surridge was appointed creative director in May. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
“I was making the guacamole when my scout saw me,” says model @stuckinteenage on being discovered just six months ago while working at @chipotlemexicangrill. Since then Williams has signed with @dnamodels, walked in her first show at @calvinklein and landed on the cover of @vogueitalia – a high point of any model’s career. To read @lisajlockwood’s full interview with the model on her experiences thus far, head to WWD.com – link in bio. (📷: George Chinsee)
“I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths,” said @hereisgina, who delivered the keynote speech during @sxsw for @createcultivate in partnership with @fossil. For her two panels, Rodriguez chose female empowering, female-led and female entrepreneurs to focus on. Head to WWD.com to read more about her thoughts on Time’s Up, growing up in a family of women and why we “need a girls’ club.” #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.