Zegna: Italian fabrics for suits, jackets, trousers and more.
As a family business, Ermenegildo Zegna goes back to the second half of the 19th century. Angelo Zegna a watchmaker by trade, started weaving wool from four looms. Of his ten children it was the last, Ermenegildo born in 1892, who took over what was to become one of Italy’s best known and most dynamic family businesses.
It was the young entrepreneur; Ermenegildo aged 18 that founded the Lanificio Zegna (wool mill) in 1910, in Trivero, in the Alpine foothills near Biella. Ermenegildo began to produce fabrics using four looms. In his own words, these fabrics had to be “the most beautiful in the world.” Today, Zegna fabrics are still one of Italy’s most acclaimed exports, identified internationally by a red seal.
The company was founded in 1910 by Ermenegildo Zegna. At the age of 18 he founded the Lanificio Zegna (wool mill) and what was to become one of Italy’s best known dynamic family business. He had a dream that he would make, in his own words, “the most beautiful fabrics in the world.”
Ermenegildo had a grander vision too, and that was to transform the environment and lives of those around him. By 1932, Trivero already had a meeting hall, a library, a gym, a cinema/theatre and public swimming pool. In the space of a few years, he built a medical centre and a nursery school. In the meantime, he was dedicating himself to the local environment and landscape, planting thousands of trees and building the “Panoramica Zegna” road a 14 km route linking Trivero and Bielmonte, a tourist resort 1,500 meters above sea level.
By the early 1980s this vision had been realised in a fully vertically-integrated company in wool production. Zegna has close control over each part of its supply chain: owning everything from a farm in Australia to mills in Italy, fabric cutting houses in Switzerland through to the boutique stores where its fabrics are sold across the globe.
Each generation of the family has been involved in consolidating Ermenegildo Zegna’s vision, ensuring that the name Zegna remains relevant. In 1972 it launched its Made to Measure service. In 1980 Zegna opened its first boutique in Paris. This was followed by shops in London in 1983 and Milan in 1985. When opened its boutique at the Palace Hotel, Beijing in 1991, it was the first western luxury menswear brand to open a boutique in China, in line with its strategy of entering emerging markets early.
Diversification of the offering, which now ranges from clothing to accessories, accelerated growth, as well as continuing the entrepreneurial spirit shown by Ermenegildo Zegna in the constant desire to improve and look to the future. The group’s two main brands are the Ermenegildo Zegna range and the Z Zegna range, which is aimed at a younger market. The group has developed and patented multiple fabric treatments including Trofeo, High Performance and Elements.
Today the Ermenegildo Zegna Group has more than 7,000 employees worldwide and a total of 525 stores (298 of which are directly operated). Over 90% of the Group’s sales are from exports; China continues to be the main market, followed by the USA. Today, Zegna fabrics are still one of Italy’s most acclaimed exports.
The company continues to be family-run and is led by Gildo as CEO; Paolo is Chairman, Anna is Image Director and President of Fondazione Zegna, and Benedetta is Talent Manager. The group has three principles: setting long-term objectives; maintaining family ownership to ensure continuity; and following a sound ethical commitment enshrined in a rigorous corporate governance system. These ensure that the company stays true to the founder's vision while ensuring it continues to innovate in a fast-changing business.