There’s a tendency — albeit, a rather lazy one — among fashion commentators to refer to Loro Piana as the “Italian Hermès.” In many ways, admittedly, it makes sense: both represent a classicist vision of European design, with an emphasis on ultra-luxurious fabrications and faultless craftsmanship. Yet the comparison misses a fundamental difference between the two brands: while Hermès is, fundamentally, a fashion brand, which adapts to shifting trends and the demands of the runway, Loro Piana is not. As a point of principle, it specializes in pieces that are almost impossible to identify by season. Its clothes are recognizable solely for their quality. It doesn’t ‘do’ fashion.
Which makes for a curious, yet inspired, decision to collaborate with Hiroshi Fujiwara, for a new capsule collection which launches today. In many ways, he occupies a similar position within Japanese fashion — the clothes created under his brand, Fragment Design, share a similarly ageless and timeless quality, that rarely shifts in its aesthetic. Yet he’s equally known for incorporating strong graphic elements, and borrowing from the language of sportswear — a far cry from the minimal cashmeres that Loro Piana is best known for.
“I want the older generation, who became oblivious to fashion, to enjoy it again.”
The result is a coming together of perspectives: the refined restraint (and second-to-none fabrics) of Loro Piana, applied to styles that draw on Fujiwara’s design heritage: workwear jackets, distressed knitwear, graphic tees, and a series of outstanding reversible nylon outerwear pieces. It’s rounded out by an accessories offering including slogan beanies, drawstring bags, and logo socks — all in cashmere, of course.
To mark the launch of the capsule, Fujiwawa joined HYPEBEAST for an exclusive discussion about creating the collection, and bringing his own vocabulary to the heritage brand.
HYPEBEAST: We heard that this was the first collaboration under your name and not Fragment — should we read anything into it? Is it differentiated from Fragment in any way?
Fujiwara: I haven’t thought about it, but yeah, I guess that was the first time ever. I don’t have a specific reason for this. However, while everyone wanted Fragment’s logo, Loro Piana appreciated my actual designs. People screaming “logo” at me is kind of annoying, but Loro Piana actually acknowledging me without just the logo was great.
I wanted to emphasize Loro Piana’s identity without using Fragment’s logo, so I think it’s a bit different from my other collaborations.
When they first reached out for the collaboration, what was your first thought? Is it a brand you wear in your personal life?
I bought a knitted sweatshirt from them, but it’s too expensive to buy it every year. I probably buy it once every few years.
I had an offer to work with them once before, but I couldn’t do it because of other restraints. It was sublime that they reached out to me once again, but I wasn’t confident enough to accept it. I was asking them, like, “Do you think we can do this? What do you think about this?” which gave me a sense that I can work more flexibly. And that became a trigger for me to execute this collaboration.
I actually brought my old knitted sweater to the meeting to tell them I loved the material of it. Since Loro Piana had been producing the same products, I’d thought that they’d recognize it.
Did you have any particular theme for this collection?
I wanted to create Loro Piana’s items by centralizing my archives. I always wanted to make items from the materials Loro Piana uses, playing around and customizing from their materialistic style.
It’s kind of rare for you to design a patterned garment — why did you include one this time?
I inherently dislike a typical “Japanese collab.” But this pattern has a vibe of an Italian chain stitch. Furthermore, this is the same pattern that one famous band was wearing when the band visited Japan for the first time. So, I wanted to use this pattern someday since I remembered it so clearly. And, since Loro Piana is an Italian brand, I thought it would be interesting to include it in a knitted garment.
It’s also, I believe, the first we’ve ever seen a distressed knit in a Loro Piana collection…
I was concerned about suggesting to Loro Piana about putting holes in sweaters, or adding graphics. But they embraced my ideas. I thought those two concerns could be a hurdle, but I was glad that they accepted them.
When we saw the samples, we were like, “wow.” (laughs)
Most average consumers will think distressed knit sweaters are ubiquitous. But initiating these designs with Loro Piana in this day and age creates a much more profound meaning behind it. Of course, other brands could do this ten years ago, but to be able to do this with Lora Piana, made me content. Besides, crafting distressed garments with Loro Piana makes the items very high quality, and I think enthusiasts will understand.
The “Loro P” graphic on the beanie is quite charming, too.
I was calling it “Loro P, Loro P” all the time. But I couldn’t believe they had let me make it.
What was the production process like?
My team and I made the very first samples, and then took them to Loro Piana’s Japan office. After that, they sent them to the HQ, then let them craft the finalized sample.
I ordered materials pretty vaguely, from a couple of options they’d sent. While we were making the samples, my team was like, “This material is costly (laughs).”
But actually, it was nice to make our prototypes of actual samples in Japan. We were able to convey the details of the examples. When we’re making a sample with some other brands, the results would be something completely different from what we expected. That happens often. Explaining the specifics to the manufacturer can be difficult when this happens, so it was pleasurable to work this way.
There’s lot of pieces that carry your signatures. Where do you want your old fans to pay attention?
It might not appear as the streetwear style that people want — like the shape of the pants and knitted sweater. But I think my fans will think, “that’s his style.” I want young people to purchase too, but I also want the older generation who became oblivious to fashion to enjoy it again. I think this collection has the potential to do that.