Ermenegildo Zegna

Ermenegildo Zegna, a ‘family business’ company, is the world leader in fine men’s clothing. Read the story and anecdotes of the historic tissue brand.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Zegna Featured Image
  1. The Zegna Philosophy
  2. The History of the Zegna Family
    1. Ermenegildo and his Tissue Factory
    2. Aldo and Angelo: The Sixities
    3. Eighties: The First Single Brand Stores
    4. The Third Generation: Guild, Paul, Anna, Laura and Benedict
  3. Bills and Acquisitions in the Early 2000s
  4. Collaborations and Projects 2000s
  5. From 2010 to Today
    1. The Centenary
    2. Stefano Pilati Creative Director
    3. The Deal With Maserati
    4. The Collaboration with Marcolin
    5. The Link with Wool Merino
    6. Alessandro Sartori: Artistic Director
  6. Zegna’s Commitment to the Environment and Social Sectors
    1. The Zegna Oasis
    2. The Zegna Foundation
    3. Ermenegildo Zegna Founder’s Scholarship
  7. Current Situation

The Zegna Philosophy

The philosophy of Ermenegildo Zegna, the world leader in men’s clothing, is elegance. The audience is the refined man.

Elegance that can be informal. Destructured lines and tailoring details, combined with a comfortable style that adds a bit of irony. Also Zegna, one of the sons of the founder Ermenegildo, said:

“Our man is not firm in a classic and traditional concept of male elegance. Those who dress Zegna follow the new trends, but in a personal way, in keeping with the need for a very functional wardrobe.”

So fashion without diktat, rather simple, the dress revisited, filtered through the needs of modern man and forged on the quality of the fabrics. In fact, the best of the fabrics.

The History of the Zegna Family

Ermenegildo and his Tissue Factory

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ermenegildo Zegna
Ermenegildo Zegna

The fabrics mark the beginning history of the Zegna dynasty. In Trivero 1910, Ermenegildo founded in the Bialesi Prealps, a factory for producing high quality men’s clothing. The result of direct selection of the finest raw materials including wool, mohair, cashmere, and alpaca.

An ultimate entrepreneurial intuition, work ability, pride of a name immediately synonymous with guarantee. Today the Group is a vital organism, anticipating changes in costume, has interpreted and lived it as a protagonist, with a new eye-catching eye.

Zegna has established several trophies to reward the quality of wool and mohair. In 1963, in collaboration with the Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association (ASWGA), the Ermenegildo Zegna Extrafine Wool Trophy was established in 1963 to enhance its commitment to quality research by Australian breeders, particularly in the production of Merino wool.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: The Zegna Wool Photo By: Mattias Klum
The Zegna Wool Photo By: Mattias Klum

Australia, in 2002, a second prize was launched. The Ermenegildo Zegna Vellus Aureum Trophy (Golden Fleece), opened to wool with a maximum diameter of 13.9 micron. From the following year, the event involves the four major wool producer countries: Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and South Africa, and becomes the benchmark for the world’s finest fleet.

All wools participating in the trophies are exclusively bought by Ermenegildo Zegna. Later, in 2013 the brand celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Ermenegildo Zegna Extrafine Wool Trophy. This is a symbol of the continuity of the relationship with Australian breeders.

Aldo and Angelo: The Sixties

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Aldo and Angelo Zegna
Aldo and Angelo Zegna

Aldo Zegna, with his brother Angelo, taking over his father in the 1960s, realizes that it is not enough to create superb fabrics, but then leave the quality of the finished product in hand. The cycle (raw material – machining – drawing – packaging – distribution) is integrated, giving rise to the company in the field of men’s clothing, to which are added knitwear, accessories, sportswear.

Product development encourages the Group to seek direct outreach to foreign markets. With the opening of commercial branches in Spain, France, Germany, Austria, USA, Japan, Great Britain, Mexico, Turkey, Korea, Singapore and production units in Spain And Switzerland.

Eighties: The First Single Brand Stores

The verticalization of the Group was completed in the 1980s with the opening of the first single brand boutiques in Paris and Milan; In 1998. There are 227 single-market outlets in the world with 41 properties, 32 in franchises, and 154 places in department stores.

The brand produces 2 million meters of fabric every year including 500,000 capes, 500,000 shirts, and 3 million ties. In 1998, sales amounted to 902 billion lire; 80% from clothing and accessories, 20% from textile products, and an export share of over 80%.

The Third Generation: Guild, Paul, Anna, Laura and Benedict

The Group still retains the nature of family business: the dynasty guided by the third generation. With Guild as CEO, Paul as President, Anna as President of the Zegna Foundation, Laura as President of Oasis Zegna, and Benedict the Talent Manager Director. All are actively involved in a series of initiatives that could be summarized, made in Zegna, meaning to wear the same label, from the board to relax.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Zegna The Second Skin Capsule Collection, 2017
The Second Skin Capsule Collection, 2017

As for the formal, already in 1972, the Su Misura service is available to meet the needs of the sophisticated consumer, who loves to customize their dress, in terms of pattern and fabric.

With the aim of diversification, in July 1999, the Zegna Group acquired Agnona, entering the high fashion woman fashion. The choice is consistent: Agnona stands out for the use of noble fibers, the sophisticated, and essential elegance of collections.

In June, Zegna is entering the Internet world, launching in the US its first website. Finally, Zegna’s wardrobe is enriched with leather goods in precious materials. Including the Naples collection with professional handbags. Also, the Traveler collection, which is designed for travel and very durable.

Bills and Acquisitions in the Early 2000s

In 2001, the Zegna Group had a turnover of €685.7 million, an increase of 8.4% on the previous year and a profit before tax of €61.3 million. Net equity amounted to €334.5 million, which tripled, compared to 1996. In 64 countries, it increased its competitive position in China + (30%) and Japan (+ 20%).

2002 ends a year marked by difficulties and uncertainties in the major global markets, with consolidated revenues of €660 million. Sales growth in Asia (more than 15%) and the lowest in Europe (+ 4%), the reasons behind the holding. At the end of the year, there are 379 single brand stores, of which 135 are owned.

In 2003 Zegna formed a joint venture in China, Sharmoon Ez, acquiring 50% of ShaarMoon, a Chinese company led by the Chen brothers that specialized in producing high quality clothes and jackets for men. The objective is to improve the competitive position in the People’s Republic, where the Biella Group is present with 36 stores in 25 cities. With invoices of €33 million, 5% of the total. The joint venture ended in 2015.

Collaborations and Projects 2002

In December 2004, Zegna signed the De Rigo Vision Group for the development, production, and distribution of a line of eyeglasses and sunglasses with the Zegna brand.

In February 2006 the brand created a multi-year collaboration with fashion designer Tom Ford, whose collection debuts in spring 2007. The collaboration includes a wide range of luxury clothing and accessories.

Also, the Ermenegildo Zegna Group and Perofil, a historic male underwear company, signed an agreement that Perofil would develop, produce and distribute the line of underwear, including sportswear, for Ermenegildo Zegna.

The Ermenegildo Zegna Group opens in 2007 the first global store in Milan on Via Monte Napoleone.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Zegna Store in Milan on via Montenapoleone
Zegna Store in Milan on via Montenapoleone

In 2008, Zegna launched the “Oasis Cashmere” project, drawing on the medieval techniques for plant dyeing of pure cashmere yarns using natural elements such as herbs and wood. This year, the Group is present with over 7,000 employees and 547 single-brand stores, of which 291 are owned. It also opened up to 7 new stores in Latin America, as had been previously thought, doubling the number of its stores.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Zegna Oasis Cashmere Fabric
Oasis Cashmere Fabric

From 2010 to Today

The Centenary

The year of the centenary in 2010 when the Zegna Group celebrates 100 years of excellence. The same year, the brand inaugurates its online boutique. Accessible in Europe, Canada, Japan and the United States, in order to connect more with the consumer. The 2010 saw the start of the collaboration of the Zegna Group with Girard-Perregaux, a symbol of the Swiss “Haute Horlogerie”.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: The Fashion Show for the Centenary Occassion
The Fashion Show for the Centenary Occassion

In July 2011, Zegna and Estée Lauder Companies signed an exclusive licensing agreement for the development, production, and distribution of new fragrances.

Stefano Pilati Creative Director

On 1 January 2013, Stefano Pilati, former creative director of Yves Saint Laurent, joins the Zegna group as the new creative director of Agnona and head of designer of Ermenegildo Zegna.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Stefano Pilati
Stefano Pilati

The Deal with Maserati

In 2013, Zegna signed a long-term partnership with Maserati, which launched a partnership for the production of a Limited Edition sedan, Quattroporte, by Ermenegildo Zegna. Maserati’s flagship, introduced in spring 2014, has been reinterpreted and personalized with colors, materials, and fabrics inspired by the Group’s collections.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: The Maserati Quattroporte Limited Edition by Zegna
The Maserati Quattroporte Limited Edition by Zegna

In particular, the fabrics will be produced by the historic Lanificio Zegna di Trivero. The collaboration with Maserati in 2015 launched the Ermenegildo Zegna interior for all Ghibli models, Quattroporte, and in 2016, Levante.

The Collaboration with Marcolin

In March 2014, the Marcolin Group and the Ermenegildo Zegna Group entered a contract that grants Marcolin the worldwide license for the development, production, and distribution of sunglasses and watch frames by Ermenegildo Zegna and Agnona.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: The Eyewear Collection Born from the Partnership with Marcolin
The Eyewear Collection Born from the Partnership with Marcolin

The Link with Wool Merino

In July 2014, in order to strengthen Merino wool and reach ever-higher production standards, the Group acquired the majority of Australia’s Achill farm. Which is located in New South Wales, where Merino sheep are being raised.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Merino Sheep in Australia
Merino Sheep in Australia

Zegna, in the dual role of producer and buyer, assumes the direct responsibility of the production phase of one of its main raw materials. This reconfirms its constant and long-lasting support to the winery sector and completing its verticalization strategy.

Alessandro Sartori: Artistic Director

In 2015 Pilati leaves the role of Agnona’s creative director at Simon Holloway. That same year ends the joint venture with Sharmoon.

In 2016, the Ermenegildo Zegna Group nominated Alessandro Sartori as Artistic Director with responsibility for all brands and Zegna lines, and for all creative functions.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Alessandro Sartori
Alessandro Sartori

At the same time, the agreements with Isa SpA, concerning the worldwide licenses for the development, production, and distribution of the eyeglasses and the intimate male for Ermenegildo Zegna, is confirmed.

In June 2016 the agreement with Perofil ends. In October of the same year, the Ermenegildo Zegna Group concluded an agreement for the control of Bonotto SpA, a textile manufacturing company based in Molvena (Vicenza).

Zegna’s Commitment to the Environment and Social Sectors

The Zegna Oasis

The Ermenegildo Zegna Group has long been engaged in environmental and social activities. The founder Ermenegildo Zegna has been devoted since the early thirties to the enhancement of the environment, starting from the territory of origin, building the “Panoramica Zegna”. A visionary longevity, through the reforestation of the mountain area around its mill and the creation of social and welfare structures, Ermenegildo Zegna has realized one of the first Italian industrial examples of environmental and social patronage.

Back in 1993, the Oasi Zegna, an open-air laboratory covering an area of 100 km2, was born to enhance the relationship between man, mountain culture and nature. Because of this, on September 20, 2014, Oasi Zegna receives, in Italy, the patronage of the FAI Fondo Ambiente Italiano. For being an example of protecting and enhancing our environmental and cultural heritage.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Zegna the Oasi on the Bella Alps, Photographed by: Mattias Klum
The Zegna Oasis on the Bella Alps, Photographed by: Mattias Klum

The Zegna Foundation

In order to confirm its commitment to social, the Zegna Group, year after year, continues its mission in the quest for the quality of its products in absolute respect for the environment. In addition, the Group manages the philanthropic activities of the Zegna family in support of organizations that work in support of the social and the environment. These activities are promoted by the Zegna Foundation, of which Anna Zegna is President.

The Zegna Foundation was born in 2000 as a modern expression of the spirit of the founder. With the donation of 5% of the profits, the Zegna Foundation supports projects in different areas of activity: enhancing environmental resources, promoting sustainable development in local communities, health and well-being, culture, and education for young people.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Zegna Foundation Podere Case Lovara in Punta Mesco Overview of David Marcesini
Zegna Foundation Podere Case Lovara in Punta Mesco Overview of David Marcesini

The Zegna Foundation is headquartered in Trivero, in the province of Biella, where there are also Casa Zegna, a historical archive and a pole of cultural aggregation, and Oasi Zegna.

In 2012 Ermenegildo Zegna launches a new worldwide project: ZegnArt, an articulated set of activities carried out in contemporary visual arts.

Ermenegildo Zegna Founder’s Scholarship

As part of the ongoing policy on the development of human resources that the Zegna Group supports through training and incentive plans, the launch of Ermenegildo Zegna Founder’s Scholarship was announced in 2014.

The program provides for an annual education budget of €1 million to allow Italian graduates, who have distinguished themselves for particular talents, to obtain a master’s degree or a doctoral degree at a prestigious university, or an international research center. The plan involves returning to Italy after specialization abroad.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ermenegildo Zegna Founder's Scholarship
Ermenegildo Zegna Founder’s Scholarship

The project will last for 25 years and will honor the founder of the Group, Ermenegildo Zegna, distinguished for philanthropic activities in Italy. In 2016 thanks to the project, a total of 33 scholarships were awarded.

Current Situation

The Ermenegildo Zegna Group, the world leader in men’s luxury clothing, has more than 6,500 employees worldwide and closed 2016 with consolidated turnover of €1.156 billion.

The export share of turnover is around 90%. China continues to represent the most important market, followed by U.S. By the end of 2016, Zegna was present in the most important cities of 100 different countries, with a total of 513 single-brand stores, of which 287 are managed directly.

In 2017 renewals and upgrades are planned in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Zurich, Bangkok, Beijing and other Chinese cities.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Robert De Niro and McCaul Lombardic the "Defining moments" Campaign 2017
Robert De Niro and McCaul Lombardic the “Defining moments” Campaign 2017