While beloved Italian designer brand Ermenegildo Zegna remains firmly planted in the luxury sphere, the company also recognizes that it’s necessary to appeal to younger customers in order to assure longevity. Bringing Alessandro Sartori as artistic director back to the company in 2016 was seen as a crucial step in that direction, and the move is paying off! (Sartori started his career with the brand in 1989 but left in 2011.)
“I brought a kind of rejuvenation to the company by getting Alessandro and making a move towards casualization,” says Gildo Zegna, the brand’s CEO. “We were known as a clothing company — now we are a lifestyle brand. Today’s fashion is becoming more casual, more accessories-driven and more digital. Alessandro’s appointment was the start of a new chapter for the company.”
That chapter relies heavily, says Zegna, on connecting with all of its customers. “We are now focused on creating a closer emotional bond with our loyal customers, while recruiting younger ones, all while staying true to our values and anticipating the needs of the market. We can now offer a cohesive and consistent style message throughout all our collections. We are also aligning the brand’s perception with its reality, so that men of all ages can love, admire and trust Zegna to meet their evolving needs.”
Accomplishing that goal, says Zegna, is a challenge. “It’s a new branding strategy for us, requiring very disciplined people and management, and without Alessandro, it would have been difficult to realize,” he adds. “He is creative, fast, and a leader. With him, we not only have a designer, but also someone who looks after store design and image campaigns. We have changed our organization so that we can react faster than ever to market changes.”
Indeed, since his return, Sartori has been carefully evolving the brand, while enlivening the collections with a bright, youthful spirit. For example, the spring/summer ’18 marketing campaign showed Academy Award nominee Dev Patel and Oscar winner Javier Bardem in a playful, friendly interchange that exemplified how two generations could share friendship and style.
Meanwhile, the spring/summer ‘19 collection, shown in Italy in June, strode a fine line between athletic and elegant, providing Instagramable moments via the occasional bold print, playful plaids and stripes, and the use of the iconic “XXX” logo as a design motif in embossed leather. As Sartori intended, many of his pieces will appeal to a younger, more fashion-forward luxury customer, while other items are sure to find their way into the wardrobes of life-long Ermenegildo Zegna fans of all ages.