Zegna Group has over a century of history. The company was founded in Trivero in 1910 by Ermenegildo, an enlightened entrepreneur convinced that business, ethics and aesthetics can work together. The exhibition tells the story of a family business that’s been perpetuating this vision for four generations. Constantly focused on excellence and in full control of the entire chain, from farms to boutiques, passing through over 500 hands.
THE PAST THAT NOURISHES THE FUTURE
Employment, community, environment. These are the three principles that inspired Ermenegildo Zegna throughout his life pursued with equal intensity. He worked with the visionary intelligence of a businessman who feels responsible for his factory, his people and his mountains, the Prealps around Trivero, where he was born in 1892. At 18, he founded the Wool Mill that was soon to challenge British hegemony and whose products, when he arrived in America in 1938, were already sold in 30 countries. From these woods he drew force for sustainable development based on excellence. He knew that companies are made of people, and while he expanded his enterprise worldwide, he built a hospital, a swimming pool and a nursery for his workers. For him the territory contained the future. So in the ‘30s he started planting 500,000 trees and built the Panoramic Road, which is still the backbone of Oasi Zegna. Mountains thrive if they aren’t abandoned. He was awarded the Order of Merit for Labor in 1935 and made Count of Monte Rubello in 1940.
An extraordinary balcony over the Po Valley plains and the Upper Valsessera. Ermenegildo Zegna built the Panoramica Road for his people as an extension of the social plan he launched between the two wars, thus planting a seed that was to germinate under the care of the next generations. Along that road, which he saw as facilitating family tourism, his grandchildren created Oasi Zegna, a tribute to his “green thought” and pioneering environmentalism. Construction of the Panoramica was completed in February 1977. The section from Trivero to Rosazza in Valle Cervo is just over 26 km and is called the "Panoramica Zegna East". The “Panoramica Zegna West" connects Oropa to Pontije di Andrate and is around 24 km long. With the pre-existing link between them, the overall length of the Panoramica is 65 km.
SEEING FAR AHEAD IN TIME
At the start of the ‘60s, the baton was passed to his sons, Aldo and Angelo, both ready to receive Ermenegildo Zegna’s legacy and carry forward his values. They had had a strict education, geared to moderation, and were used to breathing the air on the factory ‑floor. The two brothers were complementary: Aldo concentrated on production and sales, while Angelo looked after the administrative and financial side, as well as raw material quality control. In 1968, they started to diversify their industrial business, but without compromising the integrity of the production chain. They introduced prêt-à-porter and then knitwear, accessories and sportswear, each made in a separate facility. They opened commercial branches all over the world and, in the ‘80s, the first boutiques in Paris and Milan.
ZEGNA REWARDS UNCOMPROMISING QUALITY
To create its fabrics, Ermenegildo Zegna starts out from the finest raw materials and the most prized fibres available. Ever since the Thirties the Zegna family has travelled to distant lands to select them personally: to Australia and New Zealand for superfine merino wool; to South Africa for kid mohair; to Inner Mongolia, home of the best cashmere; and to the Andean plateaux of Peru for the rare vicuña. In each case the local breeders have found in Ermenegildo Zegna a direct partner and a real stimulus for continual improvement in their quest for excellence in raw materials. In 1963, with this aim in mind, Zegna started to award a series of trophies to breeders whose commitment and tenacity had allowed them to attain the kind of uncompromising quality that the company assesses on the basis of parameters of resistance, length, fineness, style and uniformity. Since 2002 the Ermenegildo Zegna Vellus Aureum Trophy has been awarded to the fleece of finest superfine merino wool in the world.
QUALITY IN THE MAKING
It takes over 500 hands to make a Zegna suit: from sourcing of the most precious natural fibers in Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, South Africa, Peru or Inner Mongolia, to the hands that perform the precision cutting of a buttonhole. The Valdilana - Trivero Ermenegildo Zegna Wool Mill is the factory and the heart that receives the raw material, the wool which is dyed, spun and carded to become, after an infinite process of quality control, a fabric. Up to 1.000 types of fabric are produced each year in around 14.000 different design and color variations. Not far away, in the production facilities in Italy and in Switzerland, other hands cut, sew, iron to create, in dozens of different stages, a Zegna suit made of nearly 250 pieces. Over time, Zegna has implemented a comprehensive strategy of verticalization, creating a menswear global luxury brand which now ranges from fabric to clothing to accessories.
THE 3RD AND 4TH GENERATION BETWEEN GLOBAL AND LOCAL... OUR ROAD TO TOMORROW
While Ermenegildo Zegna’s sons diversified production and launched prêt-à- porter, his grandsons worked to establish a leading luxury brand globally. This modernized approach looked beyond high-end men’s tailoring to define a contemporary lifestyle and a new way of being. The third generation – represented by cousins Gildo and Paolo – took Zegna Group across the world through dynamic retail expansion. Embracing progressive ideals while upholding the values of their grandfather, the next generation has focused on using their resources for the good of others; giving back to their communities and employees; caring for the natural territory where the brand originated. “Roots and wings”, as Ermenegildo summed it all up with perfect precision, tells the story of an enterprise that’s also the story of a family in which every new generation continues to honour and enhance the legacy the previous one sowed. The Zegna Group is managed by Gildo Zegna who was named Chairman and CEO in parallel with the New York Stock Exchange listing on December 20th, 2021. United under a shared vision for the future, the Group marches to the rhythm of the modern times while following a path of environmental protection and sustainability.
Zegna's style, in its evolution from the Sixties to the present day, has progressed winking at fashion movements, not only to follow their changes but to suggest new interpretations and create trends. The Zegna suit has established itself decade after decade thanks to the deep experience gained in the field of fabrics, technical studies on comfort and fit, attention to details and quality of raw materials. When, in 1968 Zegna ventured into the field of tailoring to meet the new needs of men, advertising campaigns accompanied this transformation, offering us today a testimony of taste and style in constant evolution until the most recent seasons.