MILAN — “This is a second love letter to Japan, after the opening of our flagship store in Ginza last year.”
The words of Fabio d’Angelantonio, chief executive officer of Loro Piana, reflect the luxury company’s longstanding business relationship with Japan, one of its main markets, built on shared values, attention to detail and appreciation of minimal, clean lines. “Beauty is in simplicity,” d’Angelantonio contended.
For these reasons, asking Hiroshi Fujiwara to design a capsule collection for Loro Piana — the first for the brand — fits not only with the history of the label but also with its evolution. Over the past five years, under the leadership of d’Angelantonio, the brand has reached out to a younger generation. The capsule is in line with that strategy, through a genderless apparel and an accessories collection that has an urban, less formal approach.
“We opened up to Fujiwara’s aesthetic, which has brought a dose of dynamism and energy to the brand,” d’Angelantonio said in an exclusive interview at the Loro Piana showroom in Milan. For example, the Japanese designer created a new logo for the collection, dubbed Loro Piana featuring Hiroshi Fujiwara, which shows an arrow shooting out of the Italian moniker.
The collaboration stems from a chance encounter between d’Angelantonio and Fujiwara at a Loro Piana store in Japan. “He understands and appreciates the brand because he has been a Loro Piana customer for years,” said the executive, praising Fujiwara for his multifaceted skills as a designer, a leader of streetwear culture, a producer, musician, visual artist and DJ.
Fujiwara introduced and re-elaborated Japan’s “happy print” on knitwear, which shows a sort of chain-like motif. “Happiness is very appropriate now,” said d’Angelantonio, as everyone is trying to return to a normal life post-pandemic. In fact, the executive noted how the launch campaign shows the models holding hands and embracing, in a sign of hope that physical contact will no longer be frowned upon.
The precious Loro Piana cashmere is part of the lineup, but Fujiwara conceived a sophisticated way to treat it by simulating a distressed look and adding drop stitching. “It actually takes very complicated craftsmanship to obtain this effect,” d’Angelantonio said.
The designer placed a new Loro P logo on beanies and cashmere scarves with knotted fringes. “There’s a sense of irony and ease running through the collection,” the CEO said. The colors range from white and azure to gray and black — hues that are not part of Loro Piana’s usual core palette.
“The collection reflects the idea that Loro Piana is opening up to the interpretation of a designer,” noted d’Angelantonio. “And the designer detached himself from his own brand.”
The executive was pleased with the end result, an understated and interesting collection produced in Italy that respects the Loro Piana brand, he said. “There’s a Japanese word, Iki, that expresses simplicity and understatement, but masks sublime quality at the same time,” he said, drawing parallels with the Loro Piana brand.
The capsule will first be available in Japan on Wednesday at the Loro Piana Ginza flagship and at a pop-up at Isetan. Two days later, it will be rolled out in all Loro Piana flagships and in several pop-ins and pop-ups around the world, including, for example, at Le Bon Marché in Paris.
Time will tell if other collaborations will follow. “The brand is often in demand for its purity,” he noted. “We are open to exploring other possibilities, but let’s see how this goes. As a first, we really like it and it’s stimulating.”
Loro Piana reached the 1 billion euro sales mark in 2019, and d’Angelantonio is driving a phase of success that is seeing not only a generational shift, with the average age of customers dropping by eight years over the last five years, but also an acceleration in sales in the past two years. Revenues in 2021 are forecast to surpass the 2019 figures.
The executive expects “a very positive” fourth quarter after a strong performance in the third quarter. “We have high hopes in a big return to consumer spending for the holidays and we will roll out a great gifting selection, rich and colorful,” he said.
Also, d’Angelantonio has been channeling energies in local activities to respond to the travel restrictions. “One-fits-all does not work. We have a strong brand, but local execution is important, and even more so in Asia and the Middle East, with products dedicated to local calendars and specific moments. We need to be close to local organizations and accelerate the regional interpretations, which challenges us to be prepared for timely production.”
Loro Piana has a total of 152 stores, of which 135 are directly operated. The company has secured locations for new units in Doha, Qatar, and Palo Alto, Calif., to open in the next 12 months. It is also planning an expansion in China’s second- and third-tier cities next year and in the Middle East, a market that has become increasingly key for the brand. A second store will open in Dubai, probably in 2023, and the company is planning units in Saudi Arabia in the second half of 2022 or early 2023.
“I am proud that the brand is healthy and that the company is evolving, but at the same time, it remains loyal to the vision of Sergio and Pier Luigi Loro Piana,” d’Angelantonio concluded, referring to the brothers who developed and expanded the family company, which came under the control of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 2013.