NEW YORK — Ermenegildo Zegna is a company that embraces its history, and those roots show in every nook and cranny of its revamped store here.
Last week, the Italian luxury brand threw open the doors to its Peter Marino–designed “global” flagship at 663 Fifth Avenue, between 52nd and 53rd streets, a three-level, 9,600-square-foot shrine to the house of Zegna. Although the store has been in that location since 2004, it has been expanded to include a third floor and completely rebuilt to enhance the selling experience.
The store reflects a new concept conceived and executed by Marino—a modern design that takes inspiration from the company’s beginnings as a woolen mill in Trivero, Italy, nearly 100 years ago. The 22-foot-high glass entranceway features metallic strands—to suggest fibers being woven into fabric—and this motif is repeated in each step of the glass staircase that leads to the second floor.
The textile references continue throughout the space, with stucco on the walls mimicking Zegna’s trademarked Cashco fabric, a blend of cashmere and cotton. Fabric bolts, complete with the yellow selvedge strip on which founder Ermenegildo Zegna put his name, are displayed high above the main entrance. A golden-yellow stripe of marble inside the front door is Marino’s subtle nod to that signature. “The whole boutique is like a bolt of fabric,” he said in a walk-through of the space last week. “Vuitton has its trunks; Hermès has its saddles; Zegna has its woolens.”
“We come from the textile business,” said Anna Zegna, worldwide director of image and communication for the family-owned business. “It’s one of the unique things about the brand. And everything in the store is interwoven.”
Other distinctive touches include natural materials, such as imported marble, stone, selected woods and modern metals, all of which combine to create a sophisticated blend of classic and contemporary.
Upon entering the store, customers will find a large assortment of furnishings, including a 300-piece tie rack with more than 150 different patterns. “This will make men feel like they’re in an ice-cream shop,” Zegna said with a smile. Small and large leather goods, a developing business for the company, are front and center, and the floor also offers shoes, eyewear, fragrance and an underwear/loungewear counter “for the more-private wardrobe of a gentleman,” Zegna said.
The attention to detail is evident in all of the displays, such as a belt rack that puts the merchandise at varying heights to mimic a loom, and a custom-designed tie rack that is cut on an angle so the ties do not lie flat. “The tie rack made us crazy,” Zegna admitted.
The back of the main floor is home to the Z Zegna designer label, which is set apart by a change in floor color and lighting. The back wall of this department, geared to a younger customer, has a large built-in video screen with the company’s latest runway show.
The staircase leading to the second floor is highlighted by a nature mural, which will change with the seasons, and remind customers of Zegna’s commitment to the environment.
Zegna Sport is found on this floor, and the design here is “more technical and colorful,” said Anna Zegna. Lighting is stronger to enhance the feel of the collection. Beyond Zegna Sport is Ermenegildo Zegna sportswear, where the interior becomes a rich blend of leather and mahogany. Elements, a recent addition that includes the company’s most-technical items, is also housed in an offshoot on this floor.
The wood staircase to the newly added third floor leads to the full range of Zegna clothing. There are private lounges and separate rooms for each collection—Sartoria, Upper Casual and Couture—with a faux fireplace, leather couches and other amenities that combine to give the feel of a townhouse. “This store is like a residence you explore,” Zegna said.
This floor is broken down into rooms for off-the-rack clothing, made-to-measure, couture and formalwear. The latter highlights the company’s relationship with some of the world’s best-known conductors and features black-and-white photos of them in Zegna’s “concert suits.” Fitting rooms are spacious and luxurious.
“It’s very cozy, like a gentleman’s club,” Zegna said. “It is the highest profit and densest area of the store, but it will make the customer feel contemporary and timeless.”
Zegna declined to say what the company invested in remodeling the store or what volume it would produce.
“Let’s just say the investment was very big and our expectations are very high,” she said.
“This store is for a serious guy who is still modern,” Marino said of the design. “A bunch of suits could be static, but this store has an energy.”
All told, the company has over 500 stores in 64 countries, but Zegna said there are only a few “global” flagships—including the Peter Marino–designed store on Montenapoleone in Milan, which opened last fall, and one in Shinjuku, Toyko, also being designed by Marino—slated to open in early 2009. The store in Milan, Zegna said, has doubled its sales since relocating, and she is expecting similar results in New York. “The traffic in New York is much higher than in Milan,” she said.
Recently, Ermenegildo Zegna has been flexing its muscle in the luxury world. Earlier this month, during the final day of the Milan men’s collections, the company unveiled its impressive new headquarters, an 86,000-square-foot modernistic building at Via Savona.
And last weekend, the company revealed that it has purchased the Industria Superstudio at 775 Washington Street in the far West Village as the site for its future U.S. headquarters. The 25,000-square-foot space will house the company’s corporate offices and sales showroom after 2010. The company held its Z Zegna fall show in the Industria space on