MILAN — Umberto Angeloni, chairman, chief executive officer and majority shareholder of Raffaele Caruso SpA, believes camel hair will write a new chapter in men’s wear.
The Italian luxury brand has unveiled a new group of suits and knits employing fabrics made with the finest camel hair. There is a dedicated label for the fabric, “Gobigold,” which is made of precious camel hair from the Gobi Desert. “This will become the connoisseur’s choice, rather than the ubiquitous cashmere,” said Angeloni at Milan’s Caruso showroom in Via Montenapoleone. “The old concept of the heavy and traditional camel coat is over; these suits are feather-light and supple,” said the entrepreneur, fingering a herringbone topcoat in warm, earthy colors.
The worsted fabrics were initially meant for the fall season, but they are now worked into weights for four seasons. “This is a long-term project,” observed Angeloni of the collections, which encompass suits, sportswear, knits and accessories.
Angeloni plans to support the launch by working with retailers around the world. He underscored that camel hair has a “noble pedigree,” in light of its association with the game of polo and Ivy League students in the Twenties and Thirties. He noted that the fiber is already classified as a rare and precious wool by the Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute, but he expects it to become even more exclusive.
There are only 1.4 million Camelus Bactrianus, a camel species that lives in Northern Asia, so total annual production is limited to 2,000 tons of fiber and only 30 percent of this can be used for apparel. This compares with 16,000 tons of cashmere, of which 6,500 tons are of the fine variety. Camel hair represents only one-tenth of the cashmere supply, observed Angeloni.
He said the so-called gold variety fiber measures 17 microns, and its length, superior to that of cashmere, gives threads more stability, avoiding pillage and loss of shape. Yet it is stronger and lasts longer.
Since the climate of the Gobi Desert is one of great extremes, camels are insulated from cold and heat — an advantage replicated in the clothes.
The finest camel fiber costs about 30 percent less than comparable cashmere, and can be mixed with other fine fibers, from super wools and top cottons to silk.
The suit fabrics, which are made by Loro Piana, will be presented in two varieties: A 100 percent pure camel quarter-milled “tropical,” weighing 300 grams, in chalk stripes and Prince of Wales design, and a 55 percent camel-45 percent Super 170s wool “flannel,” weighing 260 grams, in solid colors.
Additional fabric varieties include 100 percent pure camel “double,” which has a construction that leaves a micro layer of air between the two fabrics for additional thermal insulation, making it ideal for outerwear.