Paolo Zegna, chairman of the Italian luxury menswear brand Ermenegildo Zegna, tells me that “we buy the best and sell it to the best”. The Ermenegildo Zegna Group has had a long association with SA and has played a pivotal role in the local mohair industry by developing strong relationships with producers. In the late 1950s the Zegna group started purchasing South African mohair and 45 years ago, introduced the Mohair Trophy to express its appreciation to the farmers.

Poalo Zegna
Poalo Zegna

The trophy acts as an incentive to improve the quality of the product, and a better selection of fleeces results in more consistent buyers. Paulo Zegna claims that SA produces “the best kid mohair in the world, the finest of the fine”. The soft but elastic fibre is very alive and reactive and has a beautiful lustre and strength, resulting in a refined and sophisticated cloth. Smooth, durable mohair 
has a natural resistance to soiling and relatively low flammability, felting and pilling.

Mohair is known for its strength and comfort as well as its soft, pleasing handle. The naturally soft and resilient fabric has a slight sheen and is also cool and extremely lightweight. The combination of these qualities makes mohair the ideal fibre to create exclusive and precious fabrics. Owing to its scarcity and rarity, mohair is a select component of the Zegna production, giving superior value to the consumer.  

The Zegna group is always looking for new and innovative ways to use mohair, as well as new interpretations of the fibre for a younger market. Paulo Zegna is determined to establish Ermenegildo Zegna as a meaningful brand to South Africans, and educating the customer about the unique qualities of mohair is a top priority. Growing and transforming the mohair production is an integral part of the Zegna business model in SA.

The final outcome depends on the
efforts of all the
people involved. 
Everything we do,
is done well

Paolo Zegna says “the final outcome depends on the efforts of all the people involved. Everything we do, is done well.” SA produces about 53% of the world’s mohair, and the Ermenegildo Zegna group buys the bulk of the South African kid mohair production. Zegna has always been a courageous company; Ermenegildo Zegna started his business with a small mill in 1910, determined to get the better of his British rivals, by offering creative Italian fabrics with unbeatable quality.

His obsession with fine textiles made from the best fibres eventually evolved into a global luxury fashion house. The family-owned textile giant is now the world’s largest luxury menswear brand. All the cloth is woven in Italy in the Zegna factory, which also supplies fabric to other luxury brands such as Dunhill. They now also manufacture suits for other luxury brands including Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci and Tom Ford.  

Three years ago, Zegna upped its fashion game and appointed Stefano Pilati to establish the couture line. Paolo Zegna recently announced that Pilati will be replaced by Alessandro Sartori from Berluti as the new artistic director, responsible for design across all the Zegna brands. Previously Sartori spent 
eight years heading up Z Zegna, the house’s sporty, eclectic modern range, and Paolo Zegnais confident it is the perfect appointment to take on the creative direction of Ermenegildo Zegna. 

We look forward to Sartori’s first collection for Zegna, Autumn/Winter 2017. The family-owned business is now in its fourth generation and family remains important to Paolo Zegna. He says “Zegna can’t rest on past success and is continually striving to innovate and move with the times.” Change is a constant and they are attentive to what is happening around them. They remain close to the younger generation and invest in the future, which is beneficial to both groups.

Family members earn positions in the company by merit, not birthright. The next generation have to train elsewhere for at least three years and many of them opt for a five-year stint at another brand. This focus on family is the reason Zegna chose to partner with the Moosa family to open the first Ermenegildo Zegna South African store in Sandton City’s Diamond Walk.

The Moosas have several generations of fashion retail experience and with their strong family values, are a perfect fit. Paolo Zegna sees SA as the door to the rest of Africa and the first step in a carefully considered expansion plan. Paolo Zegna also serves as vice-president ofthe Association of Italian Luxury Brands. Ermenegildo Zegna: Diamond Walk, Sandton City 011 326 7767

A fine line

As part of the Mohair Trophy celebrations, Zegna has unveiled its Su Misura (made-to-measure) collection of 15 numbered suits available only at the Johannesburg store. The suits are made with a special limited-edition version of Trofeo Mohair cloth, created from the winning mohair bales of last year’s trophy. Available in either a single or double-breasted style, each of the Su Misura suits can be personalised according to the preferences of its wearer.

In addition, each suit features a dedicated label “Mohair Trophy Selection” hallmark on the selvedge, distinguishing it as an exclusive Ermenegildo Zegna limited-edition item. This limited-edition, superfine 100% mohair fabric is defined by a unique lustre and crease resistance. This expression of exclusivity and refinement shows how Zegna is able to interpret this scarce raw material by enhancing its natural characteristics and exceptional versatility.

The elegant Su Misura collection is conceived specifically for the 
Johannesburg clientele and comes with a dedicated garment bag in cotton chevron with contrasting leather piping and handles. The special packaging 
also includes a personalised hanger featuring the initials of the client. The limited-edition Mohair Trophy Selection is evidence of the importance of South African kid mohair as one of the exceptionally high-quality raw materials used to create Ermenegildo Zegna’s most precious fabrics.

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