Ermenegildo Zegna. The name evokes images of sleek silhouettes, rich fabrics, and impeccable tailoring. Such is the reputation of one of Italy’s most celebrated menswear houses that when you hear the words, you see a suit. To deviate from a formula that has brought so much success takes courage. Fortunately, that’s something Artistic Director Alessandro Sartori has in spades.
With his launch of Ermenegildo Zegna Couture, available this season at Barneys New York, Sartori reaches into the world of sportswear and street style, borrowing relaxed shapes and edgy details, while keeping each look firmly grounded in the principles of fine tailoring. The blurring of couture-level craftsmanship with casual silhouettes reflects Sartori’s understanding of how men are dressing right now. The mix-and-match of tailored pants and an oversized shirt, or a smart jacket paired with casual joggers, creates a look that easily transitions from week to weekend.
For Spring 2019, the label explores the idea of weightlessness, crafting styles that are airy in appearance and feel. “I am presenting shapes that are bold and voluminous, yet very light,” says Sartori. He draws on aspects of athletic performance apparel to create the collection, pairing the label’s luxurious cashmere yarns with a high-tech waterproof membrane, and using blends of cotton and silk to produce shirts with an elegant drape and comfortable breathability.
Zegna’s newest line can be identified by its XXX logo—the industry symbol for “made by hand.” Showcasing the brand’s celebrated Italian craftsmanship is a key part of distinguishing Ermenegildo Zegna Couture from the crowded field of streetwear labels. But at the same time, the collection embraces the comfort and ease of movement synonymous with a street aesthetic. (In fact, performers from the L.A. Dance Project have featured prominently in the label’s campaigns and worn its styles onstage.) Through these relaxed silhouettes, Sartori presents a very personal vision of how a modern man dresses: athletic, artisanal, easy, and refined.
While the look is edgy, the palette itself is understated. Soft, neutral colors fill the collection (with the notable exception of a bright yellow anorak). Gray and navy combos dominate, with the occasional off-white and beige. Bringing the collection full circle, Sartori completes his lineup with a modern twist on sneaker culture, including an eye-catching pair crafted of olive leather, white mesh, and blue topstitching.
The versatility of Ermenegildo Zegna Couture makes it easy to take these pieces from work to weekend, and from day to night. The comfort factor means the styles are great for travel, while the tailored accents make the looks suitable for more formal as well as casual events. And although any step outside the label’s suit-focused comfort zone could be perceived as a risk, with a concept this thoughtfully conceived and well-executed, it’s definitely one worth taking.