Alessandro Sartori: Z for Zegna

Photo of Alessandro Sartori

Photo: Courtesy of Ermenegildo Zegna

You have been working for Zegna on and off for around fifteen years. Isn'€™t this a little bit unusual for a designer, when the norm seems to be the opposite? As they say, changing jobs in fashion is like a game of musical chairs but with designers...

I have indeed. I think that it's easy to stay when you work with a brand that you admire and with a family that you also admire. Each season we are doing something new and fresh for the collection. To keep a brand moving and evolving is the greatest of challenges.

How do you envision the man of Z Zegna? What is he like?

The Z Zegna man is elegant, masculine, contemporary and refined. He likes to play with contrasts and details, and is also confident.

Do you have a certain image in mind when you design or is it something that changes with the mood/season?

There is certain design ethos that always remains, such as a powerful yet elegant tone, sophistication, and a balance of worldly sensitivity and strength.

Has the current financial situation changed your approach in your designs? Do you think there is a need for cheaper, disposable solutions or for expensive garments that stand the test of time?

There is a need for designers to ensure that their products are even better than before and than their competitors. In difficult financial times creativity is at its best, and throughout history it has been the foundation of some of the iconic design movements. Consumers are after products that will stand the test of time, for products that are different, innovative and unique.

Do you feel that there is any kind of competition between the main line and the Z line?

Ermenegildo Zegna and Z Zegna are two distinct brands with distinct philosophies and designs. Ermenegildo Zegna is timeless design for a sophisticated consumer, while Z Zegna is modern design for a younger consumer.

Working for Zegna and having access to all those fantastic fabrics must be great! How do you manage to narrow down all those options? Also, what are your favourite fabrics and why?

I love innovative new fabrics. My background is in fabrics, so I am able to integrate the fabric into the design process from the beginning. I also love angora blends with mohair and silk, which we have used for Edwardian style hats and also for tailoring.

Do you believe in rules when it comes to style? Are you a follower of trends in your personal or professional life?

Fashion changes while style remains; this is the backbone of how I live my professional and personal life. It's important to always be modern, and stand out and to evolve but superficial and ephemeral trends should never be followed. It's most important that a man always feels comfortable in what he is wearing; a great suit or jacket can change your behaviour and posture. Clothes should be worn, and not the other way around.

Zegna has a very strong heritage and,€” I believe,€” a very masculine approach. How do you view the homogenisation of the sexes that is often suggested by designers?

It's interesting to see the more androgynous influences that are now being seen within women’s fashion, especially with the inclusion of more tailored styles. In terms of Z Zegna menswear though, we design in a masculine way, designed by men for men. This is our point of unique reference in the marketplace; we are the only true menswear specialists.

What is the first thing that you notice in a man, style-wise?

Attitude! It transcends all clothes, all accessories and all aesthetics. Then it’s the combination of clothes and how they are put together.

Most men love to succumb to the softness of sneakers and sportswear in general. Do you think that this has made men to be less stylish?

I think that men are becoming more stylish, and more image-conscious. The relaxed sports market will always exist, however I don’t see it growing at the moment. Men are returning to formality and professionalism, especially in insecure times. Sportswear exists and is being blended with more formal pieces to create a new approach to dressing that is fresh and new.

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