It’s a really smart move by the company [Ermenegildo Zegna Group] to acquire Thom Browne. It has always been part of our DNA to invest in other businesses of similar values in the same industry. And, personally, I really like Thom Browne’s design and what he’s done since the beginning.
I handle my own Instagram account. I love Instagram but I’m not the sort who’d post a pic to boost my follower count. I don’t have a schedule to post pictures.
The Defining Moments campaign is part of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group’s global strategy. We started it two years ago and it was to represent ourselves as we are—a global company that connects all our customers with a similar mindset: an education for beautiful quality, a strong personality, a very nice feeling and affection and so on. These ideas and conversations from people of different generations are reflected in the campaign.
Defining Moments went from private conversations between [Robert] De Niro and McCaul [Lombardi] to a friendlier moment between Dev [Patel] and Javier [Bardem]. If you take these characters and others, they are all typical guys—our clientele—with a strong point of view.
One of the first questions we posed to De Niro when we shot him for our Defining Moments campaign was more for our own curiosity. We asked him if he ever kept any props from movies that he’d done and he admitted to keeping a couple of things. Like the army jacket from Taxi Driver. He said that it went missing when he loaned it to a university and they never gave it back.
Growing up was fun. It was also a time of discovery and inspiring, in the sense that I was lucky to be able to work in this business. I was deciding on a way to enter this industry and I was already working with my mama who has been a tailor for 40 years. I’ve watched closely, every phase of the process of putting together an outfit. She was choosing fabrics, cutting, fitting customers.
That area of Italy that I grew up in [Biella] was very entrenched in fashion. So, even when you’re a child, you’re always surrounded by this culture.
I know [Ermenegildo ‘Gildo’ Zegna] when I worked for them and after I worked for another brand. We didn’t meet regularly but when he asked me to return to the company, it felt like nothing had changed. It was natural.
It’s also interesting and inspiring to see Gildo work. He has a very authentic approach. He’s very careful about products, about distribution.
I’ve failed many times. But that is part of growth, no? Sometimes you fail in a specific project, sometimes you fail personal issues. Like I was married and then I was divorced or I did work that did not turn out as expected.
If you try to hide the problem then you fail in the bigger picture. It’s much better to say, ‘this doesn’t work, let’s give up and move on’. It’s better to be open about it and listen to yourself.
[The Ermenegildo Zegna Group] doesn’t advertise our work in sustainability through marketing campaigns. We don’t push for that angle because we don’t want to use that as a tool. No one knows that our production is run by two big water-powered units behind a mountain.
For one of our more visible sustainability efforts, I’d point to our dyeing process that has advanced technically. Our cashmere uses natural plants and flowers for our light colours. But if you want to deep-dye darker hues like red or black, it’s difficult and complicated because the chemical enzymes that you use to block the colours are [not ecologically friendly] but we managed to find a way around that.
I was teaching in a design school for years in Milano, Italy but due to circumstances, I didn’t have the time to indulge in that anymore. When the school called me back, which was about a year ago, I had to decline their request. To not do the thing that you love, that is a failure.
I remember my first suit. I sewed it myself when I was 14 or 15. It took me six months. That suit was a disaster but it was a nice experience. I was in love with Giorgio Armani’s designs at the time; y’know, the Black Label. They were these beautiful blue suits and I was trying to imagine myself in a double-breasted but unfortunately, what I sewed wasn’t very nice.
You’ve phases, you’re inspired by things you watch. You’re involved in movements and know artists. I’m keen on modern art and design and discovering new ways of expressing oneself. That is fantastic to me.
If I have to mention heroes, there are Joseph Beuys, Giovanni Frangi, Vanessa Beecroft, Maria Abramovic. There are photographers I like, Candida Höfer who does rigorous portraits of constructions. I’m not the sort of guy who’d stress out in wanting to meet his heroes but if there were ever a chance to do so…
In my time, fashion and style were always connected across generations but it wasn’t amplified. In Italy, when I was in design school, I was quite taken by the paninari fashion movement. It was a sleeveless Moncler jacket, usually red, and it’s best accompanied by a Fruit of the Loom tee. It’s also worn with Timberland shoes and a pair of yellow gloves hanging from the back pocket.
I cannot stand to live in the country. For one or two days, I can manage but living there? And I’m not talking about staying at the seaside. That’s nice. Love it. But living in the countryside… it’s too quiet.
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