by Stephen Garner

This year marks the 110th anniversary for Ermenegildo Zegna. Having started as a textile mill to later encompass clothing manufacturing, Ermenegildo Zegna since its inception has had a strong connection with nature, seen not just as a provider of resources and raw materials but also as a unique richness of assortments to preserve.

The Ermenegildo Zegna XXX summer 2021 collection is a project that includes both clothing and a different way to present them fusing a digital and live experience, which is an exploration of the unique bond between nature and machine.

Filmed in the archetypal Lanificio Zegna of Trivero and in the Oasi, this fashion show aims to create a singular reality where the natural element and the textile loom merge in dynamic harmony while clothing defines new categories and new solutions.

At the show, Zegna’s models retrace the steps of the brand’s founder as it strides towards a new vision of sustainable menswear in keeping with its long commitment to the environment.

A sense of fluidity and precision pervades the collection, both in the shapes and the chromatic choices. Volumes are generous, in hues of clay, cowslip yellows, hydrangea pinks, greys, river stone blues, greens, and slate blacks; materials are lightweight yet firm – wool, hemp, raw fibers, linen, paper/silk, papery nappa.

Experimenting with dropped shoulders, lowered collars, layered forms and a poetic sense of functionality expressed by outsized pockets and zips that allow volumes to expand, artistic director Alessandro Sartori extends the sartorial quest for new hybrid categories that defines his vision of Zegna. Inspired by the osmosis of different worlds, he cuts outerwear in shirting fabrics, and vice versa, allowing the wearer complete freedom of combination and interpretation when it comes to items.

What comes across is a sense of ease that is fluid and uncontrived, underlined by the mock turtleneck underpinnings that replace shirts under blazers and shirt jackets, by the duster coats and the liquid trousers that draw an elongated and nonchalant silhouette. Rounded loafers with massive soles and sandals ground the looks. Tie-dye prints enrich the layering of colors and textures.

“A moment like this can easily lead to a glorification of flawless precision of the machine,” said Sartori, “but at Zegna, in respect of a humanist tradition that is profoundly Italian, we believe that the human being always sits at the center, in harmony with nature. It is sensitivity and creativity, human qualities par excellence, that get the best out of machines. Without man, everything would be soulless. This project reflects this union of sensibilities, which is also a balance of past and future, of inside and outside, in a cohesive yet multifaceted opus.”