At the reopening of Ermenegildo Zegna's shop on New Bond Street in London, Gildo Zegna, the chief executive of the family-owned fashion brand, was in a mood to party.
And rightly so. Ermenegildo Zegna opened its first shop on this spot in 1987, and the new store celebrates the brand's long history with London, nearly three decades later.
The new, four-story location, designed by architect Peter Marino, has more than 6,500 square feet of space and seamlessly blends the brand's commitment to sustainability and quality craftsmanship while preserving the 18th-century, predominantly Georgian architecture of New Bond Street.
Even bigger cause for good cheer is the return of Alessandro Sartori as artistic director. He was creative director of Z Zegna, the brand's more casual, minimalist line, before departing for Berluti, where he helped turn the elite cobbler into a fully integrated lifestyle brand.
Sartori's first project since his appointment was announced in February is another first for the company: bespoke shoes.
A shoe for every man
Debuted at the opening party, the bespoke shoe collection will be exclusive to the London flagship store. It includes nine styles designed for nine different types of men, such as "the art dealer," a laced casual loafer; "the sommelier," a dress Oxford; and "the biker," a jodphur black boot. In total, there are three types of Oxfords, two takes on the loafer, a Derby, a gusset, a double monk, and a boot.
Sartori invites customers to think of these styles as mere jumping-off points: Each is fully customisable, and he suggests combining two-or even three-of the styles to make a custom shoe.
The most versatile style is the loafer, he says, and it's the easiest one to wear in either casual or formal situations. You can have it made in one of 10 different leathers, ranging from calfskin, leather, suede, ostrich, or crocodile, in 60 different colours and 10 different lining options.
You can adjust the heel higher or lower, or customise the construction of the shoe from a technical side and choose goodyear welding-which fuses both leather and rubber into the shoes to better seal it from the rain-or go with a leather-only construction to create a lighter, softer fit. Because they are handmade, the options are endless.
Though the shoes are designed by Sartori, they will be made by one of England's most respected bespoke shoemakers, Gaziano & Girling .
Balancing heritage with innovation
The duo of Tony Gaziano and Dean Girling started their English-focused brand of bespoke footwear 10 years ago but already have their own shop at 39 Savile Row and have attracted fans ranging from Fiat heir Lapo Elkann to billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk. The duo also runs a factory in Northampton where all the shoes will be made. Each pair for Zegna will start at roughly $8400, require two fittings, and take six months to complete.
It is this balance of heritage and innovation that inspired Sartori when designing the collection, and it seems indicative of things to come.
"One of the things that I always adored when working at Zegna, both in the past and now, is to visit their archives in Trivero," he said. "To see so many different and interesting designs, particularly from the 1940s, '50s and '60s, was a moment in fashion when the combination of craft and style became so very important. "
Though Sartori plays with Zegna's rich history, his real strength is his ability to marry modern design to classic silhouettes. "I don't want to be nostalgic; one thing is to have the feel, the other is to have the modernity."