ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA

Ermenegildo Zegna: The world’s leading company in men’s clothing

Index

  1. The origins: Ermenegildo and his fabric factory
     1.1 Awards for fine wools
  2. Aldo and Angelo: the Sixties
  3. The Eighties: the verticalization of the Group and the first single-brand stores
  4. The third generation
  5. Turnovers and acquisitions in the 2000s
     5.1 Collaborations and projects in the second millennium
  6. From 2010 to today
    6.1 Stefano Pilati creative director
    6.2 The agreement with Maserati
    6.3 The collaboration with Marcolin
    6.4 The connection with Merino wool
    6.5 Alessandro Sartori becomes creative director
  7. Zegna’s commitment in the environmental and social sectors
     7.1 The Oasi Zegna
    7.2 Fondazione Zegna
    7.3 Founder’s Scholarship
  8. Current situation
    8.1 2018
    8.2 2019
    8.3 2020

The elegance proposed by Ermenegildo Zegna can be informal: unstructured lines and sartorial details, combined with a comfortable style and a touch of irony. In fact, Aldo Zegna, one of the sons of the founder Ermenegildo, has often said so.

 “Our man is not stuck in a classic and traditional conception of masculine elegance. Those who wear Zegna follow the new trends, but in a personal way, satisfying the need for a very functional wardrobe”.

His style has no diktats, it’s rather simple; revised suits, filtered through the needs of modern man and forged on the quality of the fabrics. Actually the best of fabrics.

The origins: Ermenegildo Zegna and his fabric factory

Dizionario della Moda Mame: Ermenegildo Zegna.
Ermenegildo Zegna

The history of the Zegna dynasty began precisely from fabrics. In 1910 Ermenegildo founded a factory to produce fabrics for men’s clothing of superior quality, the result of the direct selection of the best raw materials (wool, mohair, cachemire, alpaca) in Trivero, in the Biella Prealps. Zegna is endowed with the finest entrepreneurial intuition, ability to work: his name is a guarantee. Today the Group is a vital organism which, anticipating the changes in customs, has interpreted and experienced them as protagonists, with an eye to the new.

Awards for fine wools

Zegna set up several trophies to reward the quality of its wool and mohair. In fact, in 1963 he established, in collaboration with the Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association (ASWGA), the Ermenegildo Zegna Extrafine Wool Trophy. The aim is to enhance the commitment to quality research expressed by Australian farmers, especially in the production of Merino wool.

Dizionario della Moda Mame: Ermenegildo Zegna. La lana Zegna, foto di Mattias Klum.
Zegna’s wool. Photo by Mattias Klum.

Also in Australia, a second prize was launched in 2002, the Ermenegildo Zegna Vellus Aureum Trophy (Golden Fleece). It’s open to wool with a maximum diameter of 13.9 microns. Since 2003 the event has been involving the four main wool-producing countries: Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa. Moreover, the event became the reference point for the finest fleece in the world. All the wools participating in the trophies were purchased exclusively by Zegna.

In 2013, the brand celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Ermenegildo Zegna Extrafine Wool Trophy, a symbol of the continuity of the relationship with Australian farmers.

Aldo and Angelo: the Sixties

Dizionario della Moda Mame: Ermenegildo Zegna. Aldo e Angelo Zegna.
Aldo and Angelo Zegna.

The brothers Aldo and Angelo Zegna took over from their father in the 1960s. The two realized that it was not enough to create superb fabrics if the quality of the finished product was then left in the hands of others. The cycle (raw material – processing – design – packaging – distribution) was integrated, giving life to the company in the men’s clothing sector, to which knitwear, accessories and sportswear were added. Production development prompted the Group to seek direct outlets on foreign markets. The brothers opened commercial branches in Spain, France, Germany, Austria, the USA, Japan, Great Britain, Mexico, Turkey, Korea, Singapore and production units in Spain and Switzerland.

The Eighties: the verticalization of the Group and the first single-brand stores

In the 1980s, the verticalization of the Group was completed with the opening of the first single-brand boutiques in Paris and Milan. In 1998 there were 227 single-brand stores in the world (41 owned, 32 franchised, 154 corners).

The brand produced 2 million meters of fabric per year, 500,000 coats, 500,000 shirts and 3 million ties. In 1998 the turnover recorded 902 billion lire (80% from clothing and accessories, 20% from textile products), and an export share of more than 80%.

The third generation: Gildo, Paolo, Anna, Laura and Benedetta

The Group still retains its family business nature. The dynasty was led by members of the third generation, Gildo, Chief Executive Officer, Paolo, President, Anna, President of Fondazione Zegna, Laura, President of Oasi Zegna, and Benedetta, Talent Manager Director. Extremely active in a series of initiatives that could be summed up as made in Zegna, i.e. wearing the same label, from contexts like the board of directors to free time.

With regard to formal wear, the Made to Measure service was already available in 1972. The aim was to satisfy the needs of the refined consumer, who loves to personalize his suit, in terms of model and fabric. With a view to diversification, in July 1999 the Zegna Group acquired Agnona. Thus it entered in the high-end women’s fashion. The choice was consistent: Agnona stands out for the use of noble fibres and the sophisticated and essential elegance of the collections. In June of the same year, Zegna entered the world of the internet, launching its first website in the U.S.A.

Zegna man’s wardrobe is enriched with leather goods, in precious materials. The Napoli collection mainly includes bags for professional use, while the Traveler collection is intended for travel, therefore very resistant.

Turnovers and acquisitions in the early 2000s

In 2001, the Zegna Group achieved a turnover of 685.7 million euros, with an increase of 8.4% over the previous year, and a profit before tax of 61.3 million euros. The shareholders’ equity amounted to 334.5 million euros, tripled compared to 1996. Present in 64 countries, it has increased its competitive position in China (+30%) and Japan (+20%).

2002 closed a year marked by difficulties and uncertainties on the main world markets, with a consolidated turnover of 660 million euro. The growth in sales in Asia (up 15%) and the more limited one in Europe (+4%) were the reasons behind the stability. At the end of the year there were 379 single-brand stores, 135 of which owned.

In 2003 the joint venture in China, Sharmoon Ez was born. It acquired 50% of ShaarMoon, a Chinese company led by the Chen brothers, specialized in the production of high quality suits and jackets for men.

The goal was to improve the competitive position in the People’s Republic, where the Biella-based group was present with 36 stores in 25 cities and had a turnover of 33 million euros, 5% of the total. The joint venture ended in 2015.

Collaborations and projects in 2000s

In December 2004, Zegna signed with the de Rigo Vision Group for the development, production and distribution of a line of eyeglasses and sunglasses under the Zegna brand. The brand gave birth in February 2006 to a multi-year collaboration with the stylist Tom Ford. The collection debuted in spring 2007 and included a wide range of luxury clothing and accessories.

It was 2006 when the Ermenegildo Zegna Group and Perofil, the historic men’s underwear company, signed an agreement. Perofil obtained the worldwide license for the development, production and distribution of a line of underwear, including sportswear, under the Ermenegildo Zegna brand. In 2007, the Ermenegildo Zegna group opened its first global store in Milan in via Montenapoleone.

Dizionario della Moda Mame: Ermenegildo Zegna. La boutique di Milano.
The Milan boutique in via Montenapoleone.

Then came the “Oasi Cashmere” project in 2008. The brand was inspired by medieval techniques for the vegetable dyeing of pure cashmere yarns using natural elements such as herbs and wood.

In that year, the Group was present with over 7,000 employees and 547 single-brand stores, of which 291 owned. It also opened 7 new stores in Latin America, as it had been previously planned, doubling the number of its stores.

From 2010 to today

The hundredth anniversary and the historical archive 

The brand turns 100 years old and celebrates a history of excellence. The culture of beauty, typical of the Zegna family, has been handed down over the years from generation to generation, becoming the distinctive trait of male luxury. The sophisticated sobriety typical of the brand and the high quality standards of a typically 100% made in Italy product merge in it. In 2010, on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the company’s foundation, an exhibition celebrated the textile and tailoring tradition of this large family-owned company. The historical archive Casa Zegna, founded in 2007 in Trivero, in the province of Biella, opened to the public. The archive shows all the various steps in the history of the Zegna family, telling the public the true roots of its centenary experience; from a textile woolen mill to a finished garment maker, to a world leader in the luxury sector. 

In the same year, the brand inaugurated its online boutique, accessible in Europe, Canada, Japan and the United States, with purpose of connecting more with the consumer. Always in 2010, the collaboration of the Zegna group with Girard-Perregaux, symbol of Swiss “Haute Horlogerie” started. The following year, in July 2011, Zegna and the Estée Lauders Companies signed an exclusive licensing agreement for the development, production and distribution of the new fragrances.

Stefano Pilati creative director

On the 1st of January 2013 Stefano Pilati, former creative director of Yves Saint Laurent, joined the Zegna group as the new creative director of Agnona and the head of design of the Ermenegildo Zegna Couture collection.

The agreement with Maserati

In 2013, Zegna signed a long-term agreement with Maserati. The agreement launched a real partnership for the production of a Limited Edition sedan, the Quattroporte by Ermenegildo Zegna. The Maserati flagship, presented in spring 2014, has been reinterpreted and customized with colours, materials and fabrics inspired by the Group’s collections.

In particular, the fabrics were made by the historic Zegna wool mill in Trivero. Thanks to the collaboration with Maserati, in 2015 the Ermenegildo Zegna interiors for all the Ghibli and Quattroporte models were launched; in 2016 also for Levante.

The collaboration with Marcolin

In 2014 the Marcolin Group and the Ermenegildo Zegna Group signed the contract which assigned Marcolin the worldwide license for the development, production and distribution of sunglasses and optical frames under the Ermenegildo Zegna and Agnona brands.

The bond with Merino wool

In July 2014, to strengthen the link with Merino wool and achieve ever higher production standards, the Group acquired the majority of the Achill farm, an Australian property located in New South Wales, where Merino sheep are raised.

Zegna, in the dual role of producer and buyer, assumed direct responsibility for the production phase of one of his main raw materials. In this way the company reconfirmed its constant and lasting support to the wool sector, completing its verticalization strategy.

Alessandro Sartori artistic director

In 2015 Pilati left the role of creative director of Agnona to Simon Holloway. The same year the joint venture with Sharmoon ended.

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

The agreements with Isa SpA regarding the worldwide licenses for the development, production and distribution, respectively, of the eyewear line and Ermenegildo Zegna men’s underwear date back to the same period. In June 2016, the agreement with Perofil was closed. 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 in the environmental and social sectors

Oasi Zegna

The Ermenegildo Zegna Group has long been committed to environmental and social activities. In fact from the early 1930s Ermenegildo Zegna, the founder, dedicated himself to enhancing the environment, starting from the territory of origin, building the “Panoramica Zegna”. Farsighted visionary, through the reforestation of the mountain area around his wool mill and the creation of social welfare structures, Ermenegildo Zegna created one of the first Italian industrial examples of environmental and social patronage.

In 1993, Oasi Zegna also came to life, an open-air laboratory covering an area of 100 km2, to enhance the relationship between men, mountain culture and nature.

On the 20th of September 2014, Oasi Zegna received the patronage of the FAI Fondo Ambiente Italiano, as an example of the protection and enhancement of our environmental and cultural heritage. It was the only one in Italy.

The Zegna Foundation

To confirm its commitment to social issues, the Zegna Group, year after year, is continuing its mission of researching the quality of its products with absolute respect for the environment. Moreover, the Group manages the philanthropic activities of the Zegna family in support of organizations that work for society and the environment. These activities are promoted by the Zegna Foundation, of which Anna Zegna is president.

In 2000 the Fondazione Zegna was founded, modern expression of the spirit of the founder. With the donation of 5% of the profits, Fondazione Zegna supports projects in various areas: enhancement of environmental resources, promotion of sustainable development in local communities, health and well-being, culture and education for young people.

The Zegna Foundation is based in Trivero, in the province of Biella, where Casa Zegna, historical archive and cultural meeting point, and Oasi Zegna are also located. In 2012 Ermenegildo Zegna launched a new worldwide project: ZegnArt, an articulated set of activities carried out in the field of contemporary visual arts.

Ermenegildo Zegna Founder’s Scholarship

As part of the ongoing human resources development policy that the Zegna Group supports through training and incentive plans, the launch of the Ermenegildo Zegna Founder’s Scholarship was announced in 2014. This program provides for an annual allocation in education of 1 million euros. In fact, the aim is to allow Italian graduates, who have stood out for their particular talent, to obtain a master’s degree or doctorate at prestigious universities or research centres of international excellence. After specialist studies abroad, the plan provides for the return to Italy.

The project will last 25 years, and intends to honour the founder of the Group, Ermenegildo Zegna, who stands out for his philanthropic activities in Italy. In 2016, a total of 33 scholarships were awarded thanks to the project.

Current situation

The Ermenegildo Zegna Group, world leader in men’s luxury clothing with over 6,500 employees worldwide, closed 2016 with a consolidated turnover of 1,156 billion euros.

The export share of the turnover accounted for about 90%. Moreover, China, which was recovering, continued to represent the most important market, followed by the USA. At 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 managed directly).

2018

In 2018, the Italian group acquired 85% of Thom Browne; the homonymous founder and creative director is the sole remaining shareholder in the company. The same year, Thom Browne entered into a partnership with Spanish football club FC Barcelona as creator of the off-pitch setups. 

Alessandro Sartori‘s strategy was to make sure he got the most suitable location for the right communication of the fashion message. For the men’s spring collection, the show took place in an intimate courtyard of the University of Milan, a jewel of Italian architecture; this location was dear to the designer, who was a student of the same university. For his show, Sartori transformed the location into a futuristic garden, inspired by the natural russet colour of the vicuna: a llama-like creature whose wool is one of Zegna’s distinctive symbols. 

In particular, in this collection, colour plays a fundamental role by presenting a colour palette with freesia, lotus, geranium and dark anthracite tones. The designer decided to give the collection a malleable and fluid style by deconstructing the formal codes communicated by the brand identity. Moreover, through the choice of an outdoor location and the creation of an airy atmosphere, the clothes take on a slight movement. 

2019

The Fall 2019 men’s collection, instead, was directed towards a “chic, less street” mood, a sporty and casual look. The collection presented a mix of light and comfortable shapes, counterbalanced with details with sharp shapes.

A palette that revolves around khaki, grey-blue and beluga black was also selected for the collection, 30% produced in sustainable materials. 

2020

Instead the Fall 2020 Men’s collection is focused on layers of zips, polo shirts and clothing such as coats with sloping shoulders, quilted down jackets in leather or recycled nylon, with prints. The show put sustainability at the centre, with 3,500 coloured ribbons hanging from the ceiling: a creation by American artist Anne Patterson.

 

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