It has to be on every gentleman’s bucket list: a suit of the finest material, fitted to your exact measurements, made for you, and personalised in every way. Ermenegildo Zegna’s Su Misura experience will make you feel like a movie star being prepped for a red-carpet film premiere.
Italian menswear brand Ermenegildo Zegna originated at the turn of the 20th century in Italy. Zegna launched its first made-to-measure service in 1972 and, since then, the label has grown in leaps and bounds, developing a worldwide reputation in the fashion industry for classical, timeless design, carefully curated by creative director Alessandro Sartori.
My made-to-measure journey starts on a crisp March morning at the Ermenegildo store in Sandton City’s Diamond Walk, a calm oasis amid the retail chaos. I’m ushered into the designated Su Misura (Italian for “made to measure”) fitting space at the back of the boutique by Christopher van der Westhuizen, Ermenegildo Zegna’s local Su Misura specialist. Van der Westhuizen is going to assist me in building the suit of my dreams. His patience, professionalism and uncanny ability to know exactly what his clients want before they do indicates his extensive training at the Zegna Su Misura Academy, and make the fitting process much less intimidating for a novice.
As we start paging though catalogues filled with a hundred different options for trouser and jacket cuts, designs for shirts, and different fabric and button choices, it’s easy to see how one can become completely overwhelmed. Van der Westhuizen kicks off the process by carefully measuring my shoulders, arms, chest, waist, and legs. He explains it is at this early stage that the perfect suit is made, one that fits the contours your body like a glove. These measurements, along with my choice of design for the jacket, trousers, and shirt, and my selected fabric and buttons, will be sent to the Zegna centre of excellence, where more than 100 pieces of cloth will be worked on by 200 individual hands to create the final product. It is this emphasis on the handmade that makes an Ermenegildo Zegna Su Misura suit one of a kind: machine stitching does not allow for the stretch and give needed for a client’s unique body shape.
I run my fingers over what I think will be my choice of fabric for my suit: a lightly textured dove-grey 100% cotton that is both subtle and stylish. I select a silky jet-black blazer lining with lapis lazuli blue detailing and choose understated pearly grey buttons. My trousers will be unpleated flat fronts to complement my unpleated two button blazer. Van der Westhuizen saves the best for last: my choice of cotton thread that will be used to stitch my initials onto the cuff of my shirt. My eye lands on a dark navy blue thread that will contrast beautifully with the ivory white of my shirt. A monogrammed shirt cuff and and your full name on a special label inside your blazer are part of the Su Misura experience and come standard with all suits.
The next step? In about three weeks’ time I will visit van der Westhuizen again to have my second fitting, where the final adjustments will be made. Van der Westhuizen tells me that clients can request Su Misura appointments anywhere — that he’s done fittings at customers’ homes — and it strikes me again that this is what sets Ermenegildo Zegna apart from the crowd of made-to-measure: an uncompromising commitment to individuality and attention to detail.