How I got here: Loro Piana CEO Fabio d’Angelantonio
Words by Rob Chilton
REGISTER AND RECEIVE 25% OFF YOUR FIRST ORDER USING "EDGAR25"
A memorable rite of passage in his youth led the businessman on a path to the top seat at Loro Piana, the Italian masters of luxury wool
Fabio d’Angelantonio was a 23-year-old student in Rome when he fell in love with Loro Piana, the premium wool and textile brand that specialises in clothing so soft you want to spend all day stroking it.
Keen to have a suit made, d’Angelantonio drove for seven hours from Rome to Loro Piana’s HQ in Quarona to be measured by its in-house tailor. “It was a new universe of effortless style for me, it was paradise,” he tells EDGAR. “I still remember how I was treated with good manners, and manners matter. I was from a normal middle-class family but I walked out of there feeling like a king.”
So impressed was d’Angelantonio that day that he bought three suits. “And I still wear them today,” he says with a smile. “Although I have made adjustments because I am robust or, you could say, fat!” he laughs. After such a transformative experience 25 years ago, d’Angelantonio is understandably delighted to now be CEO of Loro Piana, a position he took up in 2016. The politeness of that tailor is something he is keen to instil in his current staff.
“Sometimes clothing stores can be frenetic and transactional, but I want Loro Piana boutiques to be calm," he explains. "We have armchairs in our stores because I want people to take their time and be served with good manners.”
Just as important as service is the quality of the wool. “The brand is all about touch,” continues d’Angelantonio. “We search for the best natural fibres that you want to feel.” When they find these superior fibres – in Australia, New Zealand, China, Mongolia and South America – Loro Piana uses cutting edge techniques to transform them into exquisite clothing. “Ultimately what we do is a blend of art and science, with heritage and innovation,” he says.
Close relationships and face-to-face contact with suppliers around the world are crucial to Loro Piana’s success. “Some farmers we have known for six generations, we are always at their side,” explains d’Angelantonio. When he meets potential new suppliers, there’s one thing he wants to know. “The second or third question I always ask is: what does your son do? We need to make sure the next generation and the community will follow the same job so that if we buy today we know we can still buy from them 20 years later. Guaranteeing that generational succession of a supplier is very important for us.”
For d’Angelantonio, his job is clearly a passion project, borne out of that memorable encounter with Loro Piana when he was a student 25 years ago. But what’s also clear is that his business acumen isn’t clouded by nostalgia. “I have the never-ending belief that what can be done today can be done better tomorrow,” he says. “I think if I wake up every day with that belief in mind, eventually we will be successful.”
Tech talk: Darren Haynes from Dubai-based Hey Music