The Queen of the Andes
The Incas, who greatly revered the vicuña, called it the "queen of the Andes". In that period (until the sixteenth century), there were over three million vicuñas in the mountains of Peru, but by the mid 1960s, only 5,000 remained: first the conquistadores, and then poachers, ruthlessly exterminated the animals to get hold of their precious fleece, bringing the species to the brink of extinction. Although trade in vicuña fibre was banned in the mid 1970s to discourage poaching, and the first reserves were established, the real turning point came in 1994, when the Peruvian government selected an international partner to entrust with reintroducing this precious material onto the market, to be sourced only from animals shorn alive and then released. That partner, at the head of a consortium, was Loro Piana. Thanks also to the involvement of the Andean communities which are entrusted with the task of safeguarding the animals in exchange for the proceeds from the shearing, the vicuña has been saved. Since 1994 we have continued to work on new projects to safeguard these animals, from creating Peru's first private nature reserve in 2008, to the current rainwater harvesting initiative, Progetto Acqua, also in Peru, to projects in Argentina and Bolivia, where we source superlative quality fibre from animals certified as legally shorn, thus helping put a stop to poaching, in the name of sustainable excellence.