Why Does This Jacket Cost $21,000?

Posted on Sep 20, 2013 in Suits | 0 comments

Why Does This Jacket Cost $21,000?
by David Coggins, The Wall Street Journal
Sept. 20, 2013

IN 1958, Sherman Adams, President Dwight Eisenhower’s forceful chief of staff, was one of Washington’s most influential men. His career, however, ended abruptly after he accepted an overcoat from a textile magnate under federal investigation. The gift might seem innocuous enough, but the coat in question was made of vicuña—an incredibly soft, light, rare and very expensive yarn. It was alleged that Mr. Adams, swayed by such luxurious gifts, subsequently tried to influence federal agencies on the magnate’s behalf. Despite the politico’s protestations of innocence, he resigned in a scandal that some dubbed the Vicuña Coat Affair.

If Mr. Adams were indeed guilty, he would not have been the first to fall under the spell of vicuña. Incan royalty wore it exclusively. In the 1500s, King Philip II of Spain slept under vicuña blankets. Last century, it was favored by wealthy entertainers: Greta Garbo wore vicuña, as did Nat King Cole and Marlene Dietrich.

Now, the silky wool sits at the nose-bleed-high pinnacle of tailored luxury. Each year, only 13,000 to 17,500 pounds of vicuña become available to Loro Piana, a major purveyor of vicuña garments—a fraction of the 22 million pounds of cashmere the company works with annually.

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