The Fashion Folk S01 ep6 : Anna Zegna, Zegna Fashion, [Milian]
Interview with Anna Zegna
The soul [of fashion] is really the fabric, then it develops into style. The English product was very similar season after season. Being Italian, he wanted to add the love of Italian beauty, culture and innovation to the process. For example he used a lot of diagonal threads, he mixed different types of yarns together to be able to get a more resiliant fabric or a better feeling fabric. He used to make "tessutti diopi" which means double faced fabrics - on one side one colour and on the other side a different colour and a different structure. He did a lot of innovation to the 'cooking' of the fabric.
KM: What is Zegna?
It is a family company. My great, great grandfather actually started a couple of
looms at the end of the century and then in 1910 the mill as we know it today
was started by my grandfather.
KM: Why were his textiles any better than everyone else’s?
Well that was mainly due to my grandfather, Ermenegildo. He was a lover of
beautiful things and not only fabric wise but life wise. He did not just want to
create beautiful products but he wanted to give to the people living in this area
a better quality of life.
He wanted to give the better quality that was available in the market and
therefore he went to England to learn and he brought back with him the best
technology available at that time. Haversfield was really the place where the
best fabrics were made at that time and he went to Haversfield and learnt the
technology, bought the machinery and brought it back to Italy.
The English product was very similar season after season, being Italian he
wanted to add the love of the Italian beauty, the culture... he actually
developed a lot of new structures that belong only to him. For example he
used a lot of diagonal fabrics, he mixed different types of yarns together to be
able to get a more resilient fabric or a better handle fabric. He used to make
"tessutti diopi" which means double-faced fabrics - on one side one colour and
on the other side a different colour and a different structure. He did a lot of
innovation on the "cooking" of the fabric itself and a major marketing innovation
at that time which was writing his name on the salvage edge of the fabric, so
he wanted you to know that that fabric was Ermenegildo Zegna.
He had two children Aldo the older and Angelo who is my father. My uncle
Aldo and my father joined the business and started to learn how to produce the
fabrics, so their background for many years was within the mill.
KM: When did the concept become important to actually "go to the source" to
get your cashmere, to get your wool?
From the 50's basically, the milestone was really when Zegna started to create
the Superfine Award for the Wool in Australia. The reason why Zegna started
to create this trophy with the Australian Wool Corporation so that the
producers were excited and challenged year after year to produce something
Today we use 13 micron wool which is as fine as cashmere - a superfine wool
is between 19 and 21 micron. We use 15 micron and 13 micron wool and this
is really the result of 40 years of work and experience with the farmers who
have understood what was needed and have developed this kind of quality.
KM: You also went to Mongolia and places like that to get your cashmere, who
is the Indiana Jones of the family that actually went to these crazy places.
Who went to Australia actually, was my father, for China it was my uncle Aldo
and my brother Gildo who actually went to Inner Mongolia with a real Indiana
Jones type of trip. The cashmere was bought directly from the small Mongolian
local breeders - "I pastori" the shepherds who live like nomads and move from
one place to the other. We did a trophy for Cashmere which we had to stop for
political reasons and today we still give a trophy for Mohair in South Africa. We
buy the mohair wool directly from South Africa. Then you mentioned Vicuna,
we actually are protecting today the Vicuna animal and we are getting or
buying from the government of Peru under the control of endangered species
there. This is why Vicuna is so expensive, from one side because it is very,
very fine Cashmere and the other side because there is a very limited amount
of Vicuna that is available.
KM: Why hasn't anyone invented a fibre that is better than this?
It is not the same, nature is unique, thank God and these fibres are not
reproducible and I believe that Zegna with out being pretentious has been
innovative year after year, blending, cashmere and cotton, mohair and
cashmere, blending Alpaca and wool, blending silk and cashmere and you can
get not only from a touching point of view but also from the sheen, the colours,
something unique that you cannot get when you have man made fibres. They
are two completely different things.
KM: Why are you doing this?
First of all it is about passion, it is something you like, you breathe, you feel in
your gut. My job is more into in the creative aspect; I look after Zegna's image
and the "Brand" of Zegna - the guts of the brand, the stores, the product...
Over the years Italian fashion and I would say that more for ladies than for
men, there has been a huge evolution in the Prêt a Porte taking it very close to
Haute Couture. If you take a designer like Alberta Ferreti for example there is
some evening wear that is very similar to what you used to call Haute Couture,
so today I believe that couture has become even more couture but Prêt a
Porte has gone to such a luxury level that you can really experience Haute
Couture. The quality of Milano of Italy is to give tomorrow's women the
opportunity to buy exclusive and unique pieces but with a more but within a
KM: How do you work, what is your process?
The soul is really the fabric then it develops into style. There are certain fabrics
that are good for certain styles, and others that are not at all there. There is
the street out there, you feel it, there are certain things that you cannot put into
words like you said this other designer was expressing. You feel it in the air,
you see how the attitudes change, you feel it yourself and then the mood is....
art is the cinema, is music - all of this is really a blend.
The moments I have enjoyed being here are the Portofino Regatta because
there is a lot of excitement in the air, and you forget completely that you are
doing fashion, but you are going to a totally different atmosphere, where
families gather, friends, competitors, but for the time of the Regatta
competition is forgotten - Ferragamo, with Laura Piano, Bertelli, Owen
Johnson of L'Oreal, it is like being in a huge funny lifestyle atmosphere, eating
"Penne" or "Trenetti al Pesto", focaccia....
KM: I was with Heinz Winkler in Munich - and he said Kostas, you know the
Italians they are trendsetters in fashion, but they still eat a bowl of pasta.
KM: Why is that?
Because it is so good, there is nothing better than a bowl of pasta, excuse me!
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Anna Zegna, Zegna Fshion, Milian