In a freewheeling chat with MW, Zegna’s Creative Director Alessandro Sartori opens up about the coveted Spring/Summer 2023 Collection and collaborating with Daniel Bailey for the brand’s iconic Triple Stitch Sneaker.
Zegna unveiled its Spring/Summer 2023 collection at the Milan Fashion Week in June 2022 at Oasi Zegna. Creative Director Alessandro Sartori’s freshly-minted line entails an enviable edit of kimono jackets, overcoats, impalpable coats, shirts and tops that double as outerwear. The collection exudes a sense of lightness, warmth and comfort, amped up by its subdued colour palette. The iconic Triple Stitch Sneaker was reimagined by Sartori in partnership with Daniel Bailey, London-based designer footwear innovator and founder of Conceptkicks. The collaboration between the two creative giants, based on a unique footwear crafting process, birthed a creative experiment where uber, luxe materials match perfectly with up-to-date accoutrements.
In a quick chat with Sartori, MW gets the insider track.
What was your vision behind the SS23 collection? Take us through the process behind it
Zegna Summer 2023 fashion show was staged at Oasi Zegna for the first time ever. Oasi Zegna is home to our values, and therefore our constant source of inspiration. We thought it was the perfect setting to showcase the collection titles, as ‘Born in Oasi Zegna’, to underline our place of origins. Moving forward on a path of its own is what stands at the core of Zegna. The collection has a lot of interesting elements thrown in. Be they colours or prints, everything is reflective of a green mindset. This season is all about technical elements and functionality, combined with our well-known artisanal expertise, encompassing the brand excellence in terms of fabric and mix of different materials. The collection was presented on the rooftop of the historical Lanificio Zegna and featured some really unique materials, reflective of the development of the wool mill, such as engineered knitwear, technical silk, mesh, rubberized nylon, and wool, terrycloth, rubberized leather and lacquered napa. A feeling of extreme lightness runs through the whole collection, which can be felt in its effortless silhouettes.
According to you, in what ways has luxury tailoring changed over the years? And what is Zegna doing to stand out?
The sartorial preferences, needs and habits of the urban man have changed dramatically over the past two years. Wardrobes have transformed, with fashion mirroring the herculean changes in our lives brought about by the pandemic. Customers now prefer fluid silhouettes, which are both multifunctional yet comfortable outfits. Therefore, clothes have to transition seamlessly between indoors and outdoors to reflect the way we function. To me, it was the time to rethink what is possible, reconsider what really matters and rebalance our style while we were called to answer to the changing time. A new aesthetic was needed: fluid, ageless, adaptable, where comfort matches perfectly with style. At Zegna, this is what we call Luxury Leisurewear: an effortlessly wearable category of clothing that represents a paradigm shift in the way we think of style. Zegna today has a new identity where practicality and pragmatism get a progressive spin on tradition and craftsmanship to meet the modern man’s style needs towards a Luxury Leisurewear take and a new style language.
In SS23, there has been a heavy fusion of workwear and activewear. Is this inspired by the merging of the two during the pandemic?
Many items of the new collection are inspired by pragmatisms culled from workwear and activewear with the visual precision of uniform dressing. The result is a move away from utter formality. Effortless and unstructured shapes bring forth a feeling of lightness and freedom, blurring the line between formal dressing and leisurewear. Through constant exploration of newer ways of dressing and contemporary lifestyle, Zegna combines dynamic and flattering silhouettes with luxury craftsmanship and innovation to redefine the modern man’s wardrobe.
In this collection, we see a lot of salmon pinks, bright yellows and regular earthy tones such as beige, black, and charcoal. What led to the transition from earthy colours to pastels?
The aim was to build up a new language that was harmonious, and also remind one of the beauties of nature surrounding Oasi Zegna. The same reasoning goes for the colour selection, where lightness was the keyword. A palette accented with notes of powder white, buttercup, dusty rose, honey, vicuña, mocha, hickory, charcoal, sulfur and black was elaborated to deliver this message.
What inspired you to bring in loose silhouettes and the lightness in the collection? What was the idea behind it?
The idea was to use our craftmanship as a progressive tool, in keeping with the finesse, attention to detail, and respect for materials while experimenting with styles and materials that feel light, breezy and effortless. The idea was to mesh effortlessness and innovation to create a new style of identity for men.
You redesigned the famous Triple Stitch Sneaker with Daniel Bailey. How did the collaboration come about?
We have known each other for long. We like and respect each other’s designs and share the same values. We’re both fans of modern design and well-crafted products. Thus, the collaboration is organic and natural. When we started the conversation to design luxury leisurewear shoes, the Triple Stitch™ naturally came to mind. Triple Stitch sneakers are a global success for Zegna. And, starting with this collaboration, we are expanding the borders to turn it into a sort of creative platform. Together with Mr. Bailey we added a unique touch to the Triple Stitch™ as far as we reimagined it in a new design keeping its soul. We made it in new colours, materials and constructions. The collaboration, based on a unique footwear crafting process, is an unprecedented experiment in which luxury materials mesh perfectly with up-to-date accomplishments.
Fashion collaborations are the next big thing and Zegna isn’t new to it. You had a collaboration with Fear of God and now this with Daniel Bailey. How do you think collaborations benefit the brand and the industry as a whole?
Collaborations, according to me, are the results of creative minds working and thinking together, based on a common vision and authentic conversations, while sharing the same values. And, most importantly, there needs to be mutual respect and trust. Only under these premises will you be able to explore new possibilities and ideas that can be beneficial to both brands.
Where do you see the brand five years from now? What’s your vision for it?
As I always say, at Zegna, the journey is more important than the destination. Every journey requires adaptability and today it took us to focus on the true essence of the brand, rooted in Oasi Zegna, where our sustainable ethos has its origins. The recent Zegna rebranding gave us the possibility to be sharper, regrouping all the collections under one brand, and at the same time expressing our authentic values through a recognizable sign that comes from the brand history. Zegna is a worldwide leader in luxury menswear for over 112 years, generation after generation, and continues the vision of the founder based on a sustainable development linked to the ethical production of the finest and most exclusive fabrics in the world through constant innovation and noble fibres. Giving back has been a huge part of Ermenegildo Zegna Group’s mission.