Zegna's tale of two cities

By Gan Tian (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-08-02 16:13
Large Medium Small

Italian luxury brand Ermenegildo Zegna chose to celebrate its centennial in Shanghai, half a world away from its Milan base.

Zegna's tale of two cities

Gildo Zegna, CEO of Ermenegildo Zegna. [Photo/Provided to China Daily]

The spotlight swiveled to Shanghai recently as some of China's most luminous fashion and entertainment celebrities gathered to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Milan fashion house brand Ermenegildo Zegna.

Zegna also celebrated the opening of the label's two new stores in Shanghai, a 2010 autumn/fall fashion show of Ermenegildo Zegna and its second label Z Zegna - all on the same stage.

The after-show party was graced by the presence of movie director Chen Kaige, actresses Chen Hong and Zhang Jingchu, actors Alec Su and Deng Chao, supermodel Lu Yan and Du Juan, and Huayi Brothers' president Wang Zhonglei and director Timmy Yip.

The company flew in 25 European models for the fashion show and selected another 25 local models including the country's top male catwalk celebrities Zhang Liang, Zhao Lei and Ji Huanbo, signaling the brand's intention to marry the best of both East and West in fashion and presentation.

Chief Executive Officer Gildo Zegna, who flew to Shanghai with the other family heirs, Anna Zegna and Polo Zegna, says the company is celebrating the occasion only in Milan and Shanghai.

Milan is Zegna's birthplace, but why Shanghai?

"We will celebrate our 20th anniversary in China next year, and at the same time, we are opening two new stores in Shanghai, one of which is the global concept store," he says.

"What we have achieved in China is quite something," he adds.

Ermenegildo Zegna was among the first luxury brands to arrive in China when it founded its Beijing store in 1991. Since then, it has established 75 Zegna stores here and recognizes China as its biggest market worldwide.

"China is a very important part of this growing process, together with India, and the New World," Gildo says. "If you don't get it (the market), I think you go backward. These countries keep you energetic."

Head designer Alessandro Sartori agrees: "Shanghai is a fashionable city. It is probably the most fashionable city in China. Milan is where we were born, and Shanghai is where our future lies."

Related readings:
Zegna's tale of two cities Madonna launches new junior fashion line
Zegna's tale of two cities Colombiamoda fashion show in Medellin
Zegna's tale of two cities Eco-friendly fashion show in Bolivia

Sartori and his team sometimes find inspiration in Shanghai's streets. The brand's latest collection features suits and overcoats with double layers of fabric stitched together by hand and with jeans cut to the shape of men's legs.

Image director Anna Zegna says 538 hands work on a Zegna suit from the first cut to the final appearance in a Zegna shop.

Gildo says the brand's success in China is largely because it meets the needs of customers in providing the most advanced clothing technology and the finest materials.

The 10-pocket formal suit that Gildo wore is designed specifically for the sophisticated traveler. It is made of soft and light material and is functional and comfortable at the same time. But most importantly, it is elegant and fashionable, according to Sartori.