Cashmere has traditionally been seen as a delicate luxury fiber that requires attention and care. Cashmere yarn specialist, Lora & Festa, has successfully taken cashmere into the sports and active wear market by adding hi-tech performance properties.
The 131 year-old cashmere yarn spinner saw an opportunity in the growing active wear market that wanted the functionality of sportswear but the luxury and design of fashion apparel.
The company invested extensively in R&D to develop NanoCashmere, with water-repellent properties, and machine washable EASYCAshmRE.
Lora & Festa was founded in Italy and remains a family-owned business. Fifth generation owner and CEO, Edoardo Festa-Bianchet, relocated the company to Hong Kong to be closer to China where the company sources its cashmere and spins its yarns.
Currently, all of Lora & Festa’s yarns are spun and dyed in China, while the company’s Italian based team focuses on design and color development.
“The advantage of being an Italian yarn spinner in China is significant. We source the highest quality raw materials and use Italian machinery and know-how so we comply with the best Italian quality standards. That gives us credibility and added value to our clients” Mr. Festa-Bianchet, discussing how he combines Italian know-how with China’s more competitive prices.
Being able to offer high quality Italian yarn at a lower Chinese price gives Lora & Festa a strategic advantage in the market and has helped them win over many international brands as customers.
The Advantage of Expertise
Lora & Festa’s philosophy is to be an expert in its niche market segment and gain an advantage by offering products that other suppliers can’t offer. Right now they are targeting the high-end of the newly developing athleisure market. [
The company’s patented NanoCashmere technology inserts a special liquid repellant nanostructure into the cashmere yarn. Garments made with this yarn can achieve rain and stain proof performance while still maintaining the luxurious hand feel of cashmere. This product has already been purchased by several high-end, niche brands.
Machine washable EASYCAshmeRE yarn is another of Lora & Festa’s achievements. This yarn is 100% cashmere, but thanks to the company’s proprietary technology, it can withstand multiple machine washes and tumble-dries on low heat. Also, the pilling formation has been substantially reduced.
The company is also collaborating with City University of Hong Kong to develop self-cleaning cashmere for higher end market.
Stay Tuned to Market Shifts
Staying competitive in a fast changing industry requires critical market intelligence.
“We need to have new ideas for our customers. That’s the only way to drive things forward. We get a lot of inspiration from Inside Fashion about new product developments as well as what’s selling,” said Mr. Festa-Bianchet.
The Best Raw Materials for Best Products
Mr. Festa-Bianchet is both a visionary and a hands-on manager of the business’s operations, especially in the all-important area of raw material sourcing.
To ensure the quality of their product, the company sources its raw materials solely in Inner-Mongolia, the northern most reaches of China, which offers the world’s best cashmere. The fiber produced by these northern goats is thinner and longer and it gives the yarn a clean look with a smooth hand feel.
“I personally go and buy the cashmere. It needs someone who really cares and has experience to source the best raw materials. We only buy from the Alashan region. We go there, we touch, look and feel the fiber. My family taught me these skills. We know that quality of materials makes a big difference.” he said.