MILAN — Ermenegildo Zegna’s first global store, on Via Montenapoleone here, sets a new benchmark for the family-run brand as it establishes the standard to beat in men’s luxury retailing.
Designed by Peter Marino, the glinting, 12,000-square-foot space gives as much weight to aesthetics as it does to functionality: The store puts Zegna’s retailing and merchandising on par with its product.
“With this new concept and space we are finally able to tell customers who we are and communicate it in a direct way,” said Gildo Zegna, chief executive officer, in an interview following the flagship’s soft opening last week. “The store takes Zegna to an entirely new level.”
The executive may have been referring to image and profile, but sales too are expected to rise. Zegna noted that, compared with its former home in Via Verri, the Montenapoleone location already marked a threefold increase in foot traffic and doubled sales in the first five days of operations.
Zegna said the store, which is located on the Via Manzoni side of the fashionable street, was already attracting a bevy of new clients, both foreigners and locals. A crocodile carryall, priced at 13,000 euros, was one of the first items sold. Last Tuesday afternoon a Middle Eastern man was spotted snapping up a cream shearling coat, for 4,000 euros, along with two pairs of silk pajamas.
Although Zegna said it was premature to give a sales forecast, he called doubling revenues in this new location a realistic goal. “We need to do a lot in sales to pay for this huge investment,” Zegna said with his signature chuckle. “It’s too early to tell, but I think sales can go very high if we stay organized.”
Zegna declined to say how much the store cost but said the investment was twice that of any other store in the company’s network.
From its handsome gray and mossy-green polished-stone floors, offset with contrasting inlaid marble strips, to its well-appointed niches—which hold items like leather totes and 12 kinds of white dress shirts—the flagship solidifies Zegna’s transformation from a high-quality suit resource to a lifestyle brand.
Over the last five years Zegna has repositioned the company to better compete in the global luxury market by consistently introducing new categories of merchandise—from footwear to small leather goods, from eyewear to underwear to the fashion-forward Z Zegna line. But the company lacked the right format to fully take advantage of this diversity. Now, with four floors and more than 7,000 square feet of selling space, Zegna can show off the entire range of its offerings in a modern context. “The product is very present, but at the same time the atmosphere is of great luxury,” Anna Zegna, image and store director, said during an exclusive walk-through last week.
Anna said that before Marino put pencil to paper he spent two months getting to know the Zegna brand and the family behind it. Although the award-winning architect has created retail concepts for many fashion houses—including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Fendi—he hadn’t worked on a men’s-only brand in almost two decades. Before getting started, he urged Zegna not to cut any corners. “I told the family you have to spend X amount of dollars per square foot if you want to be in the same leagues as the big boys of luxury,” Marino recalled.
Looking to Zegna’s past, Marino made both literal and figurative allusions to Zegna’s textile tradition. “The company is about wooly sheep and high-tech industry,” he said. “I loved the contradiction. Watching a weaving machine is hot—it’s off the charts. I wanted to transform these motions—the cross weaving of the weft and the warp—into iconic design images.”
The store is replete with tactile surfaces and graphic design elements. An inlaid band of polished yellow marble outlines the ground floor, mimicking the yellow selvedge on Zegna fabrics. Irregular steal tubes sit under a glass stairwell. Intersecting suspension wires rise behind the street-front windows. Even the handles on the main door are custom moldings of bolts of corduroy.
Throughout, the store is tasteful and masculine. It has an industrial aspect but never feels overpowering. Hipsters may sigh, but the luxury everyman will feel in his element. “The idea was to create a place that could mirror the value of the brand,” Anna said. “We envisioned the store as though it were really the residence of a gentleman, with different rooms that all serve different functions.”
For customers, the journey begins outside. Visual merchandiser John Field created two enormous metal busts, then ripped them apart like cans. Inside each of them is an exquisitely tailored jacket, shirt and tie ensemble.
The 19th-century facade stands out impressively on an already tony street. Inside, the ceiling rises 15 feet. Spliced in its textured gray stone walls are streamlined slats that hold bolts of Zegna fabric. Immediately to the left are leather goods; to the right is an expansive wall of dress shirts.
According to Gildo, the design is already spurring impulse buys. Moreover, with these products front and center, he believes his category directors will be challenged creatively and the result will be better design.
Beyond that entrance area lie a footwear salon, a fragrance bar, a knitwear wall and hundreds of ties, hung from bias-cut displays to add movement. As the mossy-green marble turns to gray quartzite, customers enter the Z Zegna area.
As they ascend the floating glass staircase, customers hit the mezzanine, the home of Zegna Sport and, for the first time, a selection of Zegna denim. Casual tailoring, outerwear and underwear occupy the second floor. The top level—outfitted with leather sofas, a marble fireplace and mélange silk rugs—is dedicated to formal wear, Zegna Couture and made-to-measure.
As the product categories change, so do textures and tones. The concept celebrates not only Zegna’s textile heritage but contemporary initiatives such as the Oasis Zegna, a Zegna-funded reserve in the Biella Alps. A sweeping hologram showing a swath of Oasis mountains rises from the ground floor to the mezzanine. As customers move past it, the mountains’ peaks change from snow-capped to springtime verdant. “It’s really almost like a small department store,” Anna noted. “No detail was left to chance.”
The family will fête the opening on Thursday with an in-store cocktail party followed by a private dinner.
Zegna’s New York and Tokyo flagships are next in line for the makeover. Other locations are not yet in the works, though Gildo said the concept can be easily replicated. “If you were to ask me if I would do it again, I would say yes,” Gildo said. “If the results are there, we’ll do it even more.”
From overseeing America’s fastest-growing speciality retailers to codifying cool, WWD talked to the women who are leading the way for the future of beauty. Check out our Instagram Stories to see how these women built today and are creating tomorrow. (📸: @hannah_khymych) #wwdbeauty
For @laperlalingerie's spring 2018 show, the brand chose to host their event at @thevenetianmacao. With Chinese megastars @bingbing_fan and @hubing in attendance, La Perla debuted a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collection. The show marked the start of Sands Macao Fashion Week, which runs from October 19 to 24 — the city’s first such event. Pictured here are models backstage with glimmering eyes. #wwdfashion (📷: Cheuk-Yin To)
Trending for spring 2018: top stitch design. Gone are the days of stitch just for seams — designers are using the once-minimal detail to create strong decorative elements. (📷: Paola Testa; Styled by @andrew_shang) #wwdfashion
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)