One of the world’s best known luxury men’s brands, Zegna has a storied history that stretches back more than a century.

THE BEGINNING

Ermenegildo Zegna founded the company as a textile manufacturer when he was just 18, in his northern Italian hometown of Trivero. Set against the Italian Alps, Trivero has been traditionally known for its wool, and Zegna quickly established a reputation for excellent quality suit fabrics. As with other Italian textile companies, he sought out the American market quite early, setting up the Zegna Woolens Corporation in New York City in 1939.

THE ZEGNA LEGACY

The company remained a fabric maker for more than half a century, and in 1968, his sons Angelo and Aldo launched their first ready to wear collection. Though the company headquarters are now located in Milan, the founder’s family continue to run most aspects of its operations. The granddaughter, Anna Zegna, runs the philanthropy arm of the company as  president of the Fondazione Zegna, and the general manager of Oasi Zegna. Grandson and namesake Ermenegildo `Gildo’ Zegna is the current company CEO, and Cousin Paolo Zegna the Chairman. Gildo’s son Edoardo, who looks after the brand’s omnichannel, is one of the two fourth-generation family members being groomed for the future.  

AROUND THE WORLD

Zegna launched its first boutique outside Italy in Paris, in 1980. Global expansion accelerated in the 1990s, when it became the first men’s luxury brand to open a fully owned store in China, in 1991. With over 70 points of sale across the country, China is the brand’s biggest market in the world. In 2007, it was among the earliest luxury brands to open an owned store in India. It currently has 3 stores in India and 513 stores in over 100 countries around the world. One of the world’s best known luxury men’s brands, Zegna has a storied history that stretches back more than a century.

ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA STORES AS A DESIGN SHOWCASE

Zegna views its stores as an extension of its design philosophy of understated elegance and classic modernity. In 2007, the company commissioned famous American architect and Andy Warhol protégé Peter Marino to design its first `Global Store’ in Milan. The concept has since been replicated in New York, Tokyo, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai and and the most recent one, which opened in 2016 in Bond Street, London.

BRAND EXTENSIONS

In the late 1990s, Zegna started looking beyond its traditional area of textiles, ready-towear and made-to-measure suits. In 2002, it took over the luxury leather maker Longhi, and set up a joint venture with Salvatore Ferragamo to make shoes and other leather goods. Its accessories portfolio has since expanded to include fragrances, eyewear, underwear, sneakers, watches (in collaboration with Girard-Perregaux) and pens (in partnership with Omas). In 2003, it launched the trendier Z Zegna line, targeted at a younger generation of customers. Two years ago, it partnered with Maserati to produce 100 custom made Quattroporte sedans, with the interiors reflecting the brand’s signature designs and motifs.

THE LEGACY OF WOOL

Textiles continue to be a huge part of the company’s business. As one of the world’s leading players in the business, it produces more than 2.3 million metres of fine fabrics every year, selling it to suit makers around the globe. Besides its own labels, the company also makes suits for the likes of Tom Ford and Gucci. As a textile maker, Zegna has long patronised some of the world’s biggest and best wool producers. It has been one of the largest buyers of Australian wool since the 1920s. The Ermenegildo Zegna Wool awards, one of most coveted in that country, has existed for 50 years. In 2014, Zegna acquired a majority stake in Achill, a leading Australian Merino wool farm.

THE DESIGNER ERA

In 2012, Zegna made the major decision to bring in a big name outside designer in Stefano Pilati, then the head designer at Yves Saint Laurent. He was able to marry their rich heritage with a modern fashion edge, giving it a new fashion identity. His departure after four successful years led to the appointment of Alessandro Sartori as the Artistic Director last year. Though in his previous job he was the Head of Design at the big name luxury leather brand Berluti, he had in the past worked with the company, as the creative head of Z Zegna. Thus it wasn’t surprising that his first show was the AW 17 Z Zegna presentation at Pitti Uomo in Florence, followed up with the Ermenegildo Zegna show in Milan. For the first time, 15 looks from the fashion show were made available for Made to Measure a day after the show, in global stores worldwide. His design approach, he told a recent interviewer, combines an “elegant tone, sophistication, and a balance of worldly sensitivity and strength.” Fabrics and colours take centre stage for him, which can be seen in Zegna’s most recent collections.

ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA ATELIER

In March this year, he helped set up Atelier Zegna in Milan, a bespoke boutique that offers services that are even more exclusive than the made-to-measure that the brand has been offering for several decades. The service is available for customers around the world, exclusively in the Milan store, and the range of products that can be customised and made to personal preference include suits, shirts, shoes, sportswear, jeans and knitwear. It aims to offer a complete experiential service, with the option of visiting the mills and a close look at the entire process of suit making. Understandably, the service is not cheap. Suits could cost between 5000 to 10,000 euros.

THE VARIOUS ZEGNA EXPERIENCES

# The most premium service is a complete bespoke experience at the Atelier. This is an end to end service, which gives the consumer a true blue Zegna experience.

# Then comes the ready-to-wear line, called ‘Couture’. These are pieces that are showcased on the runway, which offer tailored clothing with handmade, luxurious details and exclusive fabrics. It offers you custom-made clothes right at your nearest boutique, albeit not as personalised as bespoke.

# ‘Su Misura’ is a made to measure service which originated in 1972. This service is less expensive and less elaborate than visiting the atelier.

# ‘Sartoria’” redefines classic Italian style, with a mix of traditional tailoring and contemporary elegance.

# ‘Informale’ is a mix of sophisticated yet chic leisurewear.

# ‘Z Zegna’ is a more sporty and technical collection, primarily designed for the modern man, an amalgamation of the beauty of the past with an eclectic masculine and fresh style.

2017 & 2018

Among the innovations one will see in the F/W 2017 collection that will hit the stores in the coming weeks include functional yet chic `jogger trousers’ and clothes with the ‘Casentino’ effect, a treatment to turn suits into outerwear. The pallete ranges from whites and greys to camel oxblood and vicuna. There will also be some visible fabric innovations, including diamond quilting and geometric patterns. An absolute must have for this season, which continues upto summer 2018, is the ‘Tiziano’ sneaker. These high-tops are a clean, minimalist form of the ankle boot, with lateral cuts which have stitching in ultra-soft calf leather.