In the space of a mere six months, loungewear has transformed from the afterthought in all our wardrobes – the old T-shirts and threadbare sweaters kept only for slouching about the house – to the indispensable clothes we’re most likely to reach for in the mornings.
In the process, it’s also taken on the unenviable mantle of being a psychological crutch for many of us. Pulling on a thick jersey crewneck or a pair of stretchy sweatpants makes for a comforting, almost reassuring moment at the start of the day. It’s the style equivalent of a milky coffee on a cold morning.
“We’ve seen a big increase in demand for loungewear this year, driven by people’s changing lifestyles,” says David Morris, Mr Porter’s buying manager. “In a short space of time, our customer has become more conscious of investing in clothes that provide utmost comfort for days working at home. We certainly expect to see this demand continue into 2021.”
Few brands have understood this change more successfully than Italian thoroughbred Loro Piana, which has been sourcing, spinning, weaving and finishing world-class cashmere in Piedmont since 1924. As we head into the depths of winter, the brand is launching a new knitted-loungewear collection that is equal parts indulgent and composed. Available for both men and women, it is made entirely from either superfine knitted cashmere or The Gift of Kings merino. The latter is a particularly fine quality of wool, spun from fibres measuring just 13 microns in diameter. (A human hair, by contrast, is around 50 microns.) The result is a collection of “new normal”-ready staples that feel like silk worn next to the skin.
“Loro Piana has always celebrated absolute comfort and wellbeing through clothing,” says the brand’s CEO, Fabio d’Angelantonio. “We think of touch as the most fundamental sense to convey a feeling of comfort and quality. Precious knitted garments are the answer to feeling comfortable and looking sophisticated, even when relaxing or working from home.”
The collection feels almost too refined to just lie on the sofa in. Luckily, this loungewear is put-together enough to wear out and about too, with many of the key pieces echoing sportswear: drawstring waists, hoodies, ribbed collars and zip-throughs. The trousers could easily be worn with a T-shirt and unstructured blazer, while the hoodie is ready to be layered beneath a tailored coat, with jeans and a pair of boots for a quick dash into town. It’s loungewear designed to play into 2020’s new dressed-down, neighbourhood-chic sensibilities.
“Our garments are always designed as solutions for customers, to suit changes in their lifestyle,” d’Angelantonio continues, “but we also create clothes to last. For many brands, a new collection’s only mission is to outdate the previous one. We’ve never worked to this rhythm. The sweater you buy in-store at the moment is designed to look good with the jacket from last year and the pants that we’ll release next year.”
The collection’s understated colour palette underscores this point. It’s a deft exercise in pairing neutrals – cream, beige, camel, dove grey, charcoal and navy – in a range of staples to be mixed and matched. Standout pieces include the Cappuccio Merano Contrast sweater in baby cashmere for women, and a pair of men’s contemporary tracksuits in two-tone grey made from a blend of cashmere and silk, or classic navy in baby cashmere.
These simple designs allude to Loro Piana’s slow-fashion mentality too. After all, the grey jersey tracksuit has been around for more than half a century, albeit not quite as high on the luxury index as Loro Piana’s.
“When we’re all spending more time at home, some exceptionally well-made knitwear is a simple pleasure,” says d’Angelantonio. Perhaps, but Loro Piana’s new loungewear is so dashing you’d be daft not to show it off around town too.
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