April 22, 2024

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The first Spanish kings of the Bourbon dynasty sealed their alliances in a very original way. Monarchs gave pairs of Cuenca Merino sheep, famous for their fine, soft wool, to foreign sovereigns as a token of friendship, but also as proof of their wealth and power. Felipe V gave a pair to his French grandfather, Louis XIV, thus initiating the globalization of this precious sheep breed. More than 300 years later, the rich and powerful men of the world are still buying and giving away merino wool, only now in the form of Loro Piana sweaters.

The rich love to get everything that is scarce. And Loro Piana, which is about to turn 100 years old, is a world leader in processing the rarest natural fibers on the planet: vicuña from the Andes, merino from New Zealand and Australia, goat wool from China and Mongolia. . For this reason, the Italian house has become “the Uniqlo of billionaires”, the official provider of super-soft basic garments for the luckiest 1% of humanity who love discreet luxury and, above all, can afford it: sweaters. ultrafine of baby cashmere for 1,850 euros, camel vicuña coats for 17,200 euros, chino pants in cotton and silk for 1,450 euros, leather shoes for 850 euros.

Lately, the Piedmontese brand’s Summer Walk loafers — a casual shoe whose slip-on line is almost insultingly pure — have been a favorite with Wolves Wall Street and Silicon Valley moguls. Handcrafted in Italy from suede—they’re also made in leather and cashmere—and with a distinctive white rubber sole, they’re extremely comfortable and lightweight. And expensive. Jean Arnault, son of the richest on the planet, wears them in earth colors, while gallery owner Larry Gagosian prefers them in alligator skin (his cost more than 4,000 euros).

David Beckham, wearing Loro Piana Summer Walk loafers.
David Beckham, wearing Loro Piana Summer Walk loafers.Getty Images

Video game mogul Bobby Kotick pairs them with zip-up sweaters from the Italian fashion house, while Greek heir Stavros Niarchos wears them with blue jeans while vacationing in Portofino and Mykonos. Those who own a sailboat engrave their names on the stubs, a popular tradition among sailing enthusiasts. Beckham also puts them on: the Summer Walk phenomenon has reached the world of fashion like an aspirin in full hangover of the crazed sneakers luxury that have eaten the market in recent years.

There are divided opinions on the origin of the phenomenon of these loafers. Some fashion experts attribute their success to the series Succession. Actor Jeremy Strong, who plays Kendall Roy, wears them in the third season. Others point to the rise of the Summer Walk is yet another symptom of the glamorization of the pandemic trend of extra-comfortable footwear. It can also be attributed to the eternal need of the rich for beautiful, expensive, luxurious, but discreet things. It’s the “nothing I wear matters to me, but it actually matters a lot” style. As we emerge from a global pandemic in which more than six million people died and enter the next financial catastrophe, the 1% who continue to buy and give away merino know that this is not a good time to attract attention. Loro Piana promotes his loafers as “perfect for summers spent sailing or on the beach.” They are also perfect for running to get all your money from the nearest Credit Suisse branch.

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