Ermenegildo Zegna

Tonie Ong

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Ermenegildo Zegna Collection

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Articles on Ermenegildo Zegna

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Family-owned businesses are quite common in Italy. Often times, they’re mom-and-pop shops and usually in the food business as Italian cuisine is quite prominent. They’re also usually passed down from generation to generation, kept alive by descendants of varying degrees, or even their spouses. In Italian fashion, this is also a common case. A lot of the luxury fashion brands beloved by the world today started as family-owned businesses. There’s Fendi, PradaEmilio Pucci, and many more. Similarly, to this day, those same brands are still run by the families of the founders that established them. One such is Ermenegildo Zegna.

Generations of Zegna Family

Zenga store in Milan. Fashion week Zenga shopping

It began initially as a wool mill back in the late 19th century, established by Angelo Zegna, who was a watchmaker back then. His youngest son, Ermenegildo, was born in 1892. In 1910, as aged 18, Ermenegildo took over the business of his father and renamed it Lanificio Zegna. It soon became a prominent wool manufacturing business in Italy, producing some of the finest wool made from the most exotic looms in the world. By 1930’s, the company branched out into producing garments themselves, making men’s suits for a number of high-profile clients, both from Italy and the rest of Europe.

Paired with the fine fabrics that they themselves manufacture, Zegna suits gradually became popular among Europe’s elite. In 1942, Aldo and Angelo Zegna, Ermenegildo’s sons, joined the company, who renamed it Ermenegildo Zegna & Sons. In 1966, Ermenegildo passed away at age 74, leaving his sons,  Angelo and Aldo, to take the reins of the family business. Under their leadership, the company ventured into ready-to-wear menswear, wherein a lot of their pieces were sold in some of the most prominent retailers in the world. Soon, Angelo and Aldo’s children also became part of the company—Angelo’s son Gildo headed the apparel division while his daughter Anna took care of store planning and Aldo’s son Paolo lead the textile division and its marketing.

Expansion to Retail and International Ventures

Ermenegildo Zegna flagship store in Huaihai road. Shanghai, China
Ermenegildo Zegna flagship store in Huaihai road. Shanghai, China

Even during its early years, the company began expanding internationally. In 1936, they set up the Zegna Woollens Corporation in New York City, exporting their luxurious fabrics to the American market. When Aldo and Angelo took over, they established Zegna factories in both Spain and Switzerland This made the company become one of the firsts among all Italian brands take their production in an international level. The first boutique was even in Paris, opening in 1980, which was then followed by sixteen other flagships stores in many different countries. By 1999, they’ve opened new manufacturing plants in Mexico and Turkey. In the 21st century, the expanded their brand to reach Asian markets such as China and India.

Making its Mark in the Fashion Industry

Ermenegildo Zegna store interior in Hong Kong
Ermenegildo Zegna store interior in Hong Kong

Ermenegildo Zegna is one of the most prominent menswear fashion brands today. Their impact goes beyond making the best suits for distinguished gentlemen, but also making them with the best material manufactured by the company. Their use of fine fabrics such as wool and cashmere is part of their DNA, harkening back to when the company was first established as a wool mill by Angelo Zegna. Annually, they produce over 2.3 million yards of fine fabric, exported to different countries and bought and used by some of the most prominent fashion labels today. They even give out awards, such as the Ermenegildo Zegna Wool awards in Australia, one of the countries that provide them with some of the finest wool in the world.

When it comes to their suits, their tailoring is also celebrated around the world. Distinguished gentlemen from many countries all buy or get their suits made by the label, spreading more awareness for the brand. Their work has rivaled those by Canali and Armani, other Italian brands are known and beloved by their menswear. Because of their devotion to wool, their knitwear is also celebrated, bought and sold at some of the most revered retailers in the world. In fact, through the years their knitwear has gained equal prominence to their tailored suits.

Prominent Faces of Ermenegildo Zegna

Because of their high-quality clothing, famous men have worn the label on countless appearances, from red carpet events to official galas. Some have even fronted the brand’s ad campaigns, showcasing their devotion to the brand as a provider of their well-made suits. In 2003, Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody became the face of the label for both their Spring and Fall collections. It was around the time that he just won his Academy Award and was one of the most demanded actors in Hollywood. From 2013 to 2014, Irish actor and model Jamie Dornan fronted the brand’s campaign, succeeded then by British actor Sam Riley.

Beyond ad campaigns, other actors like Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Chris Pine, and Liam Hemsworth have all worn the label on the red carpet. Their exquisitely-tailored suits have become the favorite of the Hollywood elite, worn often on high-profile events such as the Academy Awards and the Met Gala in New York City. Even athletes, when outside their normal sporting gear, wear Zegna suits as well. Hockey players Brandon Bollig, Patrick Sharp, and Michael Kostka once donned the brand’s suits on the red carpet. While American football star Tom Brady and NBA player Carmelo Anthony have worn the company’s ready-to-wear on the street.

To this day, the Zegna family still runs their eponymous empire. Even though the brand has expanded exponentially in the last couple of decades, the heart and soul of the label is still there, as long as the Zegna family name is still the head of the business.

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