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Ermenegildo Zegna Celebrates 110 Years By Turning To Sustainability

James Aguiar | November 9, 2020 | Style & Beauty Style & Beauty Feature

As Ermenegildo Zegna rings in more than a century of style and innovation, the fashion brand pronounces its latest sustainability efforts.

Zegna fall/winter 2020 collection#UseTheExisting Achill Farm Suit from the Ermenegildo Zegna fall/ winter 2020 collection

2020 may be forever solidified in our minds as one of the most challenging years in recent memory. But, amid the chaos, one name and one brand continues to shape future generations with exciting and forward- thinking initiatives that prove 110 years in business can be just the beginning.

In honor of the momentous anniversary, Ermenegildo Zegna used the occasion to simultaneously look inward and outward. With over a century of craftsmanship and skill (with origins as a textile mill and later a clothing manufacturer) Zegna turned to its legacy as a jumping-off point to redefine a new era for the brand. With a trifecta of noteworthy ventures and social media campaigns, this luxury house is not resting on its very well-earned laurels.

Oasi Segna nature reserveThe Oasi Zegna nature reserve

First, Zegna looked to sustainability and the creation of #UseTheExisting, as seen in the fall/winter 2019 collection. Behind the trending hashtags is the idea to work toward a completely upcycled element in all of its pieces moving forward. While this may seem like a lofty idea, Artistic Director Alessandro Sartori explains, “It is our duty as denizens of the world to live responsibly. I want to do it using the creative means I have at my disposal, which extend from the materiality to the fabric-making to the exquisite technicality of tailoring. We can reuse and reinvent the existing, getting progressive fabrics out of discarded ones, translating traditional techniques into innovative lifetime tailoring. This is Zegna’s answer to responsibility, making the dream of zero waste possible.”

The concept of reusing and recycling fabrics paired with the goal of producing less waste has been at the forefront of the fashion industry for some time now, yet few companies have the structure to make it a reality. Zegna, however, has just the right elements in place to succeed. Starting with all phases of the design process, the brand has the ability—from product development to implementation to the final debut on the runway—to control all aspects of the production timeline.

Zegna XXX look fall/winter 2020An Ermenegildo Zegna XXX look from the fall/winter 2020 collection

Lest anyone think these initiatives are trendy or meant to tick a politically correct box, let us be clear: House founder Ermenegildo Zegna had been globally and environmentally conscious long before the term “sustainability” became a buzzword. In the 1930s, the designer planted 500,000 trees with the vision of protecting the space surrounding the company’s headquarters. Today, this magnificent forest is known as Oasi Zegna, and it encompasses nearly 25,000 acres of uninterrupted beauty and splendor.

The forest and its legacy play perfectly into the third aspect of the brand’s busy anniversary year. The successful #WHATMAKESAMAN campaign has been exploring the very idea of modern masculinity: By identifying people who care deeply about the earth, sustainability and a new way of looking at consumerism, Zegna will plant a tree in your name within the Oasi Zegna forest to support the ongoing reforestation project. Participants will also receive a small piece of seeded paper, which can later be planted in their own corner of the world.

While the term #UseTheExisting may seem nouveau or counterintuitive in the new-obsessed world of luxury fashion, it is this type of innovation and commitment to a better future that will ensure the existence of Zegna for the century to come.

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Photography by: Forest photo William Daniels; loom photo Dominic Nahr; all photos courtesy of Ermenegildo Zegna