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Vicuña, the rarest, finest animal fibre in the world, comes from a small Andean camelid, whose story is closely bound up with that of Loro Piana. Graceful and lithe, the vicuña is known as the “Queen of the Andes”. It was revered and protected by the Incas who did not permit it to be hunted, and the magnificent fibre obtained from its fleece could only be used by the emperor and his family. Yet the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors led to a devastating massacre: eager to trade in its superlative fibre, the invaders almost brought the vicuña to extinction. Despite numerous conservation attempts over the years, poaching continued at an alarming rate: by the 1960s the number of vicuña had fallen to no more than five thousand, making it an endangered species.
It was around the mid twentieth century that Loro Piana became part of the vicuña’s story, driven by its enduring values and its passion for the world’s very finest raw materials. In the 1980s the company began working actively in Peru to safeguard the “fibre of the gods” and in 1994 it was granted the exclusive right to reintroduce it onto the market. In 2008 it established the “Reserva Dr. Franco Loro Piana”, Peru’s first private nature reserve. In just five years the number of animals in the reserve has doubled, confirming the significance of Loro Piana’s contribution to saving this precious animal from extinction. But the work done for the vicuña in Peru was just the beginning: on the strength of 30 years’ experience in the field, in 2013 Loro Piana ventured into Argentina, purchasing the majority share in a company that has permission to shear the vicuñas that live wild in the area it owns the rights to, situated in the Catamarca province in north east Argentina.
Today Loro Piana is the world’s number one processor of vicuña, the finest fibre that can be legally obtained from an adult animal - on average diameter of only 12.5-13 microns thick. Once spun and woven, the vicuña is entirely crafted in Italy for discerning, sophisticated customers who once more have the privilege to wear the “fibre of the gods”.