That Ermenegildo Zegna's Artistic Director Alessandro Sartori, chose a train station as the location to launch the menswear label's latest collection is a prophecy that is self-fulfilling. A midway meeting point that allows you to go from one place to another while remaining in constant flux, it's a direct reflection of the fashion industry's current situation as it looks to transition into a more ecologically driven economy.
The intersectionality of the collection's venue, Milano Centrale Station, was also evident in the clothing itself. In one interview, Sartori has described the collection as a move in a more chic, less street direction that still embodied the hybrid sport attitude that had infused his previous Couture XXX lines.
"I felt the urge to advocate the power of openness and multiplicity through my own means as a fashion designer," was the explanation given by Sartori in the press release.
"Expressing awareness and responsibility at every step of the creative process, from textile-making to devising new categories of clothing to the staging of the fashion show in such a meaningful place. In doing so, I keep perfecting my vision of the contemporary metropolitan wardrobe: an idea of tailoring for a cross-generation of global customers."
It suits you
Once again, Zegna's iconic suit was made more apparent through its hypothetical absence. What looked like it could be, on closer inspection was instead something slightly more. Cropped trousers, zippered cuffs, jackets cut to boxier shapes – the finished product is clearly targeting the kind of man who knows his tailoring, but wants something more from it.
The insinuation of sporting elements also continues, although it's less apparent and more subtle here than in previous collections.
Tapered trousers, the iconic Cesare sneaker (which can now be made custom to client's preferences as part of the new campaign which launched on the night of the show) offset the soft silhouette of jackets that take cutting cues from military aesthetics. Combat boots and jodhpur-inspired pants strapped at the shin complete the look.
It's a darker and definitively more sensuous collection, if one can use that term for a line of clothing for men, than Sartori's last outing but the evolution of forms is apparent.
It all makes sense, to put it simpler, when you place it in the larger context of Zegna's overall message.
A colour-palette of blacks, blue and grey are joined by the familiar plums and khaki of previous shows. One particular standout was the pilot-jacket in khaki – a chance for men seeking something new to upgrade from the beloved bomber that has all the elements of a tailored blazer.
Responsibility in menswear
Sartori's primary theme, however, in this collection was the power of sustainability.
Specifically, re-using materials already at hand. According the show's details, roughly 25 per cent of the materials used in the collection was recycled from fabrics found at the Lanificio in Trivero, including cashmere, wool, and nylon.
But what is more fascinating is the fact that the fibres were also created to be 100 per cent recyclable in the future and continue their evolution and completing the sartorial circle.
That Zegna, and Sartori, are among the first to really press this message home should come as no surprise. Sustainability and preservation have been at the heart of the Ermenegildo Zegna business model since the company's origin.
The company factory, located in the Biellese Alps in Piedmont, boasts zero water wastage, a mind-blowing feat of forethought put into place by the first Ermenegildo Zegna who instilled systems that funnelled water back into the surrounding landscape.
As the (Western) world moves forward under the grip of the minimalist "joy" cult of Marie Kondo while at the same time still indulging in the fast fashion vices that created their problem in the first place, the importance of reuse and sustainability in the fashion would couldn't be more important.
Fashion's very business model is based on instant gratification and subsequent dismissal of clothing as one trend follows another. But Zegna's approach is integration, as opposed to replacement, could be the eco-friendly vision to inspire the broader industry.