Ermenegildo Zegna

Born: Trivero, Italy, 1892
Died: Trivero, Italy, 1966

Angelo Zegna originally started a watchmaking business in the second half of the 19th century. Starting to experiment with weaving wool, Angelo gradually moved the business into another direction – garments. Having ten children, his last, Ermenegildo, took over from his Angelo, continuing the family business.

A young entrepreneur, Ermenegildo Zegna founded the Lanificio Zegna, a wool mill, in 1910 in Trivero. Zegna began producing fabrics using four looms. He described the fabrics as “the most beautiful in the world”.

With an international vision, Zegna wanted to source the best fibres directly from their country of origin. With this aim, Zegna was soon exporting fabrics to America by 1938 and by 1945; Zegna fabrics were sold in over 40 countries.

While his company was expanding, Zegna placed an importance on having a positive relationship with his environment. This led to him building a medical centre, nursery school and planting thousands of trees around Trivero. With Zegna now married with children, his son’s, Angelo and Aldo, started working for the company, learning their father’s secrets. By the sixties Angelo and Aldo were gradually taking over the management of the Wool Mill from their father.

Under Angelo and Aldo’s influence, the company expanded to produce ready-to-wear collection and a made-to-measure range. The company started distributing and producing internationally and opened their first brand stores in Paris and Milan.

In 1968, the business opened a factory in Novara, Italy, producing trousers and sleeves. The garments were immediately successful due to the quality of the fabrics.

The brothers started expanded the business abroad starting in Spain and then Switzerland which led to them almost worldwide. Around the same period, they included accessories and sportswear to their product list. By 1972 the business officially launched their made to measure service.

Like their father, the brothers believed in the welfare of their workers and surrounding community. Aldo and Angelo created a 14km road linking Trivero with Bielmonte in the Italian Alps. They also built a residential housing estate.

Aldo and Angelo trained their children into the business just as Ermenegildo had done with them. Their children; Ermenegildo, Paolo, Anna, Benedetta, Laura and Renata were all taught the companies secrets and prepared for managerial positions.

The new generation expanded Zegna’s global position and by the end of the nineties, the company now had ranges from clothing to accessories.

In 2002, Zegna took over the Longhi brand. The same year a joint venture with the Salvatore Ferragamo group was established in order to develop a worldwide footwear and leather goods business.

The following year in 2003, a fragrance was launched. Three more fragrances have followed.  In 2004 sunglasses and eyewear were added to the business portfolio which followed with an underwear collection in 2006. The Ermenegildo Zegna and Z Zegna lines where shown at Milan fashion week in 2008.

Ermenegildo Zegna, the Italian luxury fashion brand, has made strategic acquisitions in various textile and fashion companies. Notable acquisitions include Tessitura di Novara, Pettinatura di Verrone, and Bonotto, known for their craftsmanship and rejection of standardization. Zegna has also acquired stakes in companies like Dondi (high-end knitwear), Cappellificio Cervo (historic hat maker), and has ventured into partnerships with brands like Estee Lauder, Maserati, and Marcolin.

Ermenegildo Zegna Biography

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Written by Saxony Dudbridge

Saxony Dudbridge was one of the first contributors to the Catwalk Yourself project, Saxony studies International Fashion Marketing and she is responsible for our great History and Designers Biographies sections.

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