Chairman and CEO of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group on the company’s development and Saudi expansion plans
Dubai: It’s been a year since the family business, Ermenegildo Zegna Group. Last week, the Italian company announced that it had signed an agreement to enter into a long-term licensing of Tom Ford fashion with Estee Lauder Companies.
The news came when Estee Lauder revealed that it had acquired Tom Ford for $2.8 billion.
In December last year, the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange with a market capitalization of $2.4 billion. The luxury menswear brand was also significantly rebranded, using a unique name, Zegna, and a simple logo.
For the heritage brand, the future is as important as preserving its Italian roots.
The group’s president and CEO, Gildo Zegna, told Arab News about Zegna’s expansion plans in Saudi Arabia.
With the Middle East and Africa region recording recent quarterly growth of 86.4 percent year-on-year, the region is a key market for the company.
“Our store in The Dubai Mall has become a benchmark for our business – 30 different nationalities shop there every day – it’s just incredible,” said Zhenya.
With Dubai expecting a million visitors for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, expect it to be a lucrative month.
And after a trip to Saudi Arabia, Xenia revealed that expansion plans in the Middle East are well underway.
“It has been a very exciting journey – I am amazed to see the resources people are putting into the country – they want to invest in the future and modernity.
He added, “The key is to be there with the good partners we have (the Al-Maliki Group), and I think we’ll get great sites and run a lot.”
In 2023, Saudi Arabia will see the opening of two Zegna stores, with several more boutiques in the pipeline over the next three to five years in a further expansion of the 112-year-old brand.
It was in the 1910s when Ermenegildo Zegna founded Lanificio Zegna, a wool mill making the finest textiles from natural fibres, in his hometown of Trevero, Italy.
The business has grown into a luxury group including menswear, Thom Browne, acquired in 2018, and a one-of-a-kind Made-in-Italy luxury textiles lab platform.
On December 20 last year, Zegna rang the bell on the New York Stock Exchange, making history as the company became the first Italian fashion brand to be listed there.
“Going public was probably the biggest and hardest decision of my life – I was putting the company and the family on the line,” he said.
After much research and planning, the transaction was moved forward with the agreement with Investindustrial Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company sponsored by Investindustrial VII LP’s investment companies.
“I also think it was the best way to prepare the company for the next generation – with the right governance and resources,” Xenia added.
The founding family remains a major shareholder, with a stake of 62 percent. And this year’s financial records seem to confirm that Zenga’s move was the right one.
In the third quarter of this year, the group reported revenue of 357 million euros ($366 million), up 27.6 percent year-on-year, bringing revenue for the first nine months of 2022 to 1.09 billion euros.
Prior to its initial public offering, the company rebranded itself by bringing its three clothing lines under one umbrella.
“We decided to unite and create a single brand – Zegna,” said Xenia.
Brand value has always been a strong focus at Zegna, and the latest move created a more streamlined identity for the brand, as did its new logo featuring a double-bar indicator.
Although it is known for its made-to-measure suits using high-quality fabrics, the brand has branched out into creating luxury leisure wear under the creative direction of Italian fashion designer Alessandro Sartori.
“Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, I asked the Executive Committee to launch a new project that changed Zegna’s concept from tailoring to luxury leisure wear – it was the beginning of a new era and probably one of the smartest decisions I’ve made,” Zegna added.
By focusing on category management and creating distinctive products such as 3-stitch sneakers and knitwear, Zegna has made it more accessible to different age groups.
Referring to the casual shirt and shorts he wore in an Arab News interview, the company president said that this is Zegna’s new standard and approach that has attracted loyalists and younger generations.
“It is about creating excellent products with a contemporary style in innovative fabrics,” he added.
With its made-to-measure service, everything from sneakers to knitwear, outerwear and suits can be customized in various materials and colours.
This year, Zegna also revealed an exclusive partnership with Real Madrid as their official travel apparel partner – a move that capitalizes on football’s growing relationship with the latest fashion. Dior, Moncler and Off-White are some of the other major brands that have signed deals with major football clubs.
Football players are influential brand ambassadors. In Zegna’s campaign, Real Madrid players have been seen wearing the brand’s signature jersey and three-stitch sneakers, highlighting its timeless and contemporary approach to design.
Italian-made menswear aside, the company’s textile division remains a global benchmark for luxury fabrics and one of the company’s most important growth drivers.
The financial results for the third quarter showed that textile revenue reached $31 million, up 33.3 percent year-on-year. The company continues to supply textiles to some high-end brands, including Gucci and Tom Ford.
With its vertically integrated supply chain, the brand has strong control over its suppliers. Last year, along with Prada, it acquired an Italian cashmere product.
Zegna said: “Filati Biagioli Modesto is a company that I bought with Mr. Bertelli from Prada to make sure we had a good supply of traceable cashmere which had become so rare. From sheep to stores, we are the only fully integrated luxury company.”
Elsewhere, from Achill’s farm in New South Wales, Australia comes the finest merino wool, shipped to the company’s Italian mills and then to stores.
He noted that with its supply chain, the company has been stronger in terms of sustainability by using traceable fibres.
Zegna noted that the company has always tried to give back to the environment, whether through the Oasi Zegna forest reserve in Italy, or recycling.
“Our project #UseTheExisting uses existing fiber and fabric scraps to reduce waste,” added Zhenya.
Items from the eco-friendly collection can be purchased both online and in-store.