Built on the blood, sweat and commitment of four generations of a family dynasty, one menswear brand, above all others, is steeped in tradition, heritage and tailored excellence.
It’s an undisputed fact that the Ermenegildo Zegna Group is the world leader in fine men’s clothing. It has a yearly output of two million metres of fabric, 500,000 sleeve units, almost 1.5 million sportswear items, and 1.7 million accessories. That’s a lot of fine clothing.
In 1889, Angelo Zegna, a watchmaker, went into the wool trade with just four looms. His 10th child, Ermenegildo, took over the reins of the business and transformed the poor, isolated town of Trivero, at the base of the Alps, into a thriving industrial center.
Now celebrating its 100th Anniversary, Ermengildo Zegna’s vision is being carried forward by his progeny; a family dynasty that’s passionate, inventive and committed to superb quality.
His grandchildren are heavily involved in the running of this prestigious company; Gildo Zegna is its C.E.O, Paolo is the chairman, Anna is the image director. Angelo, Ermenegildo’s son, is the honorary chairman and patriarch. What’s even more impressive is how this dynasty, unlike many others, has not torn itself apart in family disputes and power grabs. Instead, it seems a harmonious working and family relationship exists within the House of Zegna – and avid fans and wearers of their clothes distinctly feel this unity.
The most outstanding feature of the Zegna Group and their clothing is undoubtedly their fabrics. From its inception, only the finest cashmere and wool fed the Trivero looms, and the legend of Zegna as superb craftsman of indescribably elegant men’s suits, was solidified.
The Group has been known to only select the best natural fibres for their clothing lines. In particular, wool, and not just any old fleece. Only Australian wool will do – a most prized variety, which comes from merino sheep, a breed of Spanish origin brought to Australia at the end of 1789 by Captain MacArthur.
Merino sheep are shorn once a year and their fleeces have fine and very curly fibres, used exclusively for clothing. Thanks to increasingly sophisticated selection, Australian farmers have been able to reach extremely high quality levels. The most prestigious wool is called superfine, amounting to a mere 15% of annual production, which comes with an average fineness of less than 19.5 micron (thousandths of a millimeter); of this only a few thousand kilograms measure 15 micron, which is comparable to the finest varieties of cashmere used by Ermenegildo Zegna to make a series of particularly prestigious fabrics.
Every year, Lanificio Zegna, the textile-manufacturing arm of the company, which employs 450 people to produces textiles exclusively for the Ermenegildo Zegna collections, selects and buys the best batches of wool in auctions in Australia. The complete production process is then carried out at a wool mill in Italy – from raw material selection to the finishing of fine fabrics such as worsted woollens, cashmere and mohair.
Lanificio Zegna also sell their fabrics to some of the world’s top ready-to-wear labels, best designers and brands, and the most skilful tailors from all over the world.
The 2010 Collection – 100 years of Innnovation
Inspired by its heritage and the future simultaneously, in 2010, Zegna has reintroduced its “Fabric N° 1”, the original innovation of 1910. Also known as ‘Tessuto Numero Uno’, the fabric was painstakingly re-created from the founder’s own records and today, it’s a lightweight fabric that reflects Zegna‘s role as the creator of style for the modern man. In a range of versatile, tailored options, the “Fabric N° 1” collection features Zegna Centennial suiting and continues into a specially created selection of Centennial belts, shoes, sunglasses and handbags.
So who is the ‘Ermengildo Zegna’ man?
According to the Zegna family, the Zegna man is superbly and instinctively sophisticated.
“His strength is natural, and his presence is unforgettable. He is always a gentleman; impeccable, and eternally polished yet always at ease. Inspired by his travel, he finds balance in a landscape of rich colour – mountain blues, forest greens, the greys of austere quarries.
He wears fabrics crafted from only the finest natural fibers and yarns. Organically-dyed cashmere. Rich wools. Luxurious skins. He is drawn to lightweight, high-performance materials, and he is inspired by the combination of nature and innovation. The Zegna man lives for today, with the natural, robust spirit of yesterday, forever guided by tradition, always inspired by tomorrow.
It’s clear to see that the Zegna philosophy is one of the most enduring brand messages we’ve seen in a long time. It’s profoundly succinct and translates extremely well into the actual production line; speaking to the forward-looking man of the world who values the eloquence of a rich past and looks to an even more abundant future.
We’re inspired. We hope you are too. Here’s to Ermenegildo Zegna.
- “Dream Weavers”, June 2010, Vanity Fair Magazine – www.vanityfair.com