Loro Piana opened its new store at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California, on Wednesday with a new limited collection authenticated by the blockchain, which is a first for the brand.
The collection is made from Gift of Kings, the company’s extra soft, breathable and crease resistant wool fiber. The company describes it as one of the oldest, most prized and exclusive wools in the world — which, at 12 microns, is even finer than baby cashmere and almost as fine as vicuña. Each of the special items is numbered by a unique digital ID and carries a QR code on the label, allowing it to be verified and traced. Scanning the code confirms the authenticity and allows the purchaser to access more information about the item’s journey from farm to store.
Customers can also register their ownership of, for example, the Rodney jacket, which is an item from the new line. According to the company, that’s “in keeping with a legacy-tracing approach, can only be passed down from generation to generation after the transmission of the certificate of ownership.” The blockchain logs every transaction and change of ownership, and the record is available online via an app or website.
The concept plays into one of Loro Piana’s selling points. The brand describes itself as one of the very few luxury fashion brands with a fully integrated value chain: “The Gift of Kings wool is the result of Loro Piana’s presence in New Zealand and Australia since the ‘70s where flocks of merino sheep have been tended to by generations of committed local breeders who have brought the wool to an astounding level of quality and fineness,” it said. “Our customers will be able to receive details that no other competitor can offer, such as fiber purity, fineness and length.”
Only 20 items will be available to start and at the Stanford Shopping Center boutique only. Each one is also tied to an exclusive digital artwork by London-based artist Charlotte Taylor, who reinterpreted The Gift of Kings journey as 3D sculptures.
On Wednesday, the store opening highlighted the collection, technology and art behind it with panel talks to educate customers. However, the boutique will also carry all of the brand’s latest men’s and women’s clothing, plus accessories.
This location has a minimal, modern sensibility, with a facade in kummel, Loro Piana’s signature color, as well as neutral tones of golds, beiges and blues. Other details highlight or draw inspiration from the fabric, including oak furnishings and cashmere coverings for walls and upholstery.
The maison has a long tradition of offering the finest wools in the world — next year marks its centennial — but it’s no stranger to newness. In recent years, the company welcomed a new chief executive officer, Damien Bertrand, new approaches like last fall’s CashDenim (cashmere denim) and a new vision for how it communicates about the stealth wealth brand.
This week, in a WWD exclusive interview, Bertrand explained his intent “to explain more the savoir faire and craftsmanship of Loro Piana because it’s so unique and no one has this level of quality and obsession for quality, which is sustainable.”
He didn’t discuss technology specifically. But the partnership with the Aura Blockchain Consortium suggests the craft of Loro Piana is so unparalleled, it must be protected in ways that only tech can achieve.
As for this technology specifically, luxury authentication could be one of the most resilient parts of a blockchain world that has been contracting lately. If it is insulated from the struggles dogging cryptocurrency and NFT support, that may be because the real value isn’t in the tech itself, but the physical products tied to it.
That’s been a vision for the Aura Blockchain Consortium since its inception. It was formed by Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Prada Group and Richemont’s Cartier in April 2021 to explore the technology to raise the standards for luxury goods.
This may be Loro Piana’s first foray into digital authentication, but it won’t be the last. Its first phase begins in mid-March, but from the spring 2023 collection on, the brand plans to extend digital certification to all of its new products made of The Gift of Kings across all of its stores worldwide.