Ermenegildo Zegna #UseTheExisting project
by Stephen Garner
Ermenegildo Zegna Oasi Zegna

Zegna reiterated its social and environmental commitments this week in a digital event that celebrated the 8th edition of the Ermenegildo Zegna Founder’s Scholarship.

This year, the scholarship program is providing financial assistance to 43 students from Italian universities who will be furthering their studies or conducting research at some of the world’s most esteemed universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, MIT, Yale, and Stanford. The program is designed to encourage awardees to return to Italy following completion of their sojourn overseas and to share with other Italians the knowledge and skills that they will have acquired.

Since its inception in 2014, the program, which is dedicated to the memory of group founder and philanthropist Ermenegildo Zegna, has awarded scholarships to 284 exceptionally talented young Italians. The program is conceived to last for 25 years, with annual funding of up to €1 million.

This year, scholarship awardees were invited to attend a digital round table on “The Zegna Group’s Sustainable Ethos,” which was hosted by CEO Gildo Zegna together with Oasi Zegna sustainability officer Anna Zegna, Zegna artistic director Alessandro Sartori, and as special guests, two of this year’s awardees, Diletta Milana, an alumna of the Alta Scuola Politecnica now attending Stanford University, and Luca Fusar Bassini, of the Scuola Normale Superiore, who will be conducting research at Boston Children’s Hospital, an affiliate of the Harvard Medical School.

Their talk highlighted the sustainable path that the Zegna Group has undertaken since its inception as well as the emerging technologies that are inspiring it to go further.

Anna Zegna described recent efforts to reintroduce native species of trees and shrubs into the Oasi Zegna, a 100 square kilometer nature reserve that extends from the town of Trivero to the peaks of the Biellese Alps in northern Italy. This unspoiled domain, which constitutes an extraordinary reservoir of biodiversity, was pioneered by founder Ermenegildo Zegna in the 1930s and remains a model of environmental patronage.

Ermenegildo Zegna #UseTheExisting project

Sartori described Zegna’s #UseTheExisting project, which involves the reduction of waste in the production and distribution of contemporary wardrobes by, among other techniques, limiting cut-offs of excess material, recovering and recycling fibers, threads, and fabrics, and minimizing unsold inventory. Developed thanks to the expertise of the Zegna Group’s textile division and first launched with the Ermenegildo Zegna XXX winter 2019 collection, #UseTheExisting reflects a broad-based effort to progress towards a future of zero waste in the clothing industry, consistent with the Zegna Group’s longstanding commitment to sustainability.

“Now more than ever, we believe it is vital to support the next generation as they meet the significant challenges ahead, including the need to build a more sustainable future,” said Gildo Zegna. “The actions we take today will have a profound impact on tomorrow, both for the world we live in and the generations that will inherit it from us. When we launched the Ermenegildo Zegna Founder’s Scholarship in 2014, we intended to further the philanthropic vision that inspired my grandfather. Since the beginning of this program, our aim has been to contribute to the development of our country not only by providing financial support to talented young people but also by encouraging their individual sense of responsibility and desire to play their own positive parts in shaping our country’s future.”

The Zegna Group earned the CNMI Award for Sustainability at the Green Carpet Awards in 2019, as well as the ADI Design Index Innovation Award for 2020. Another milestone was reflected in the 2020 Fashion Transparency Index: that report by Fashion Revolution, which gauges the transparency of fashion brands, rated Zegna among the top three world brands for the year-on-year increase of its individual score, and as the first luxury brand to publish a complete list of its suppliers.