MILAN — Entrepreneur Sergio Loro Piana died on Thursday at the age of 65. Details were not available, although it is understood Loro Piana had been ill for some time. A funeral date has not been made public, as it is believed it will be held privately. He is survived by his wife Maria Luisa and their three children.

This story first appeared in the December 23, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Together with his brother Pier Luigi, Sergio Loro Piana helped build and expand the company, which dates back six generations, rotating the chairman and chief executive positions on a three-year basis. The siblings developed the firm, based in Quarona, Italy, into a prized manufacturer of exclusive fabrics and yarns, preserving its unique heritage, and sold an 80 percent stake to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton this past summer.

In a document released upon the closing of the sale, Loro Piana was described as “the largest cashmere manufacturer and the biggest single purchaser of the world’s finest wools.” It also highlighted its unique brand equity, vertically integrated from access to the finest raw materials to distribution and an entirely Made-in-Italy policy. Following the closing, on Dec. 5, Sergio Loro Piana became vice president of the company and a member of the board, as did his brother.

The Loro Piana family began trading wool and fine textiles at the beginning of the 19th century in Trivero, in northern Italy. Pietro Loro Piana founded the company as a wool mill in 1924 in the country’s Quarona commune. In the mid-Forties, Franco Loro Piana started exporting precious textiles outside of Italy, an activity further developed by his sons Sergio and Pier Luigi in the Seventies, when they started helming the firm and expanding into luxury retail operations.

The company offers exclusive men’s and women’s wear lines. It manufactures for its own use and supplies high-end garment manufacturers.

“I am hit and saddened by the passing away of Sergio Loro Piana because he has been one of the main protagonists of the quality Made in Italy, which he wanted to support with his every decision and initiative,” said Giorgio Armani.

“He was a great entrepreneur, one of the three main ones in the textiles industry that I have ever met,” said Matteo Marzotto, heir to the Marzotto textile and fashion family. “He had a pure, extraordinary vision and created a premium brand in textiles, which is extremely difficult, with a perception of exclusivity and Italian excellence.

“Over 15 years, he built a history in apparel with a consistent product. He had taste, which was reflected in the collections, and determination, and built an exceptional successful company, masterminding its positioning.”

Marzotto said he considered Loro Piana a friend who followed him throughout his life and with whom he shared a passion for flying helicopters. He also shared a personal memory recalling how Loro Piana sent him a gift of 25 ties embellished with maritime signal flags. “I had seen him wear one during a dinner a month earlier and loved it, wondering where I could find one. Well, he really surprised me with that gift, he was such a thoughtful person,” said Marzotto.

A saddened Umberto Angeloni, chief executive officer of Caruso, said he had “shared a common and parallel life path” with Loro Piana. “His company is Caruso’s main supplier and we worked together also when I was helming Brioni. We had a great relationship,” said Angeloni. Echoing Marzotto, the entrepreneur praised Loro Piana’s strategic vision. “This is what makes a difference in creating a successful company, and it’s not easy to succeed in both the textiles and apparel industries.”

Mario Boselli, head of the Italian Chamber of Fashion, defined Loro Piana as “a rare, real gentleman, with a strong sense of humor, and a true innovator, deeply conceptual.” Loro Piana was also a member of the Chamber’s board. “We were friends, and if you ask me since when, I can’t tell you, it seems since forever.”

“Our longtime friendship aside, the death of Sergio Loro Piana leaves a void which will be difficult to fill in the international textile and fashion industry,” said The Woolmark Co. global strategy adviser Fabrizio Servente. “The great research and attention for absolute quality, evident in the most prestigious fabrics and clothes in the world, is and will always be a reference point for everybody — a flagship of that Italian taste of which Sergio Loro Piana was the finest ambassador.”

“He was one of the true gentlemen in Italy. We are upset and shocked by the news,” said Jacopo Etro, creative director of the Etro Accessories and Leather, Home and Textile collections and head of communications.

Appreciative of the lifestyle his brand catered to, Loro Piana also supported sports competitions such as the Piazza di Siena horse jumping race and the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta.

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