In the first half of the 20th century, Loro Piana produced a fabric known as Priest Cloth, which was used, perhaps obviously, in making clerical vestments. The wool was imported from Tasmania, which is to wool what California is to oranges or Ontario is to maple syrup. The cloth had all the hallmarks of fine wool, which is breathability, insulation, water resistance and comfort. What was good enough for the church is generally good enough for the wider public, and an attempt to produce fabric that was slightly lighter, and suitable for year-round wear, resulted in the Tasmanian being born in the 1960s.
The advertising for the Tasmanian had a touch of incongruity and irreverence. The imagery placed suits made from Tasmanian fabric in situations one might consider wholly unsuitable: surrounded by affectionate (and pawing) dogs, poking out of a sewer (looking immaculate, of course), and being worn while trying on skis and riding a donkey. There was even a gentleman having an afternoon doze in the garden with a cigar clenched in his jaws. The text read, “It is difficult to give up the vice of a good Loro Piana”. The tongue-in-cheek tone underpinned a confidence in the product, and it aligned itself with the addictive nature of bespoke — “having a suit made is addictive, but so is wearing this fabric”. This is the kind of confidence that tailors are meant to show in recommending it, and customers in choosing it. Anyone who has owned a bespoke garment knows that if the fabric lets you down, just like a tailor, you’re unlikely to consider any swatch from them at the next commission.