MILAN — What’s in the cards for Z Zegna?

This story first appeared in the December 2, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

A new designer, Francesco Muzzi, is said to be joining the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, following the exit of Paul Surridge, as reported by Italy’s Corriere della Sera on Monday. It is understood Muzzi’s first designs for Z Zegna will bow for spring 2016. Only a few months ago, in June, the group celebrated the relaunch of its Z Zegna line with a major performance show at men’s trade exhibition Pitti Uomo. Starting with the spring 2015 season, the Z Zegna brand incorporated the Zegna Sport leisurewear label and the creative development of the brand was assigned to a team guided by two of the company’s key people: Surridge, former creative director of Z Zegna, and Murray Scallon, previously Zegna Sport’s head designer.

The stakes are high for Zegna as Z Zegna is a leading brand for the Italian men’s wear giant. “In some markets, such as China, for example, the brand’s modern yet luxurious designs are business drivers, a hit with the young, affluent managers,” said a market source. “Even more so now that it adds the urban casual style from Z Sport.”

Milan-based marketing and strategic consultant Armando Mammina concurred, saying the Z Zegna brand “is an important business and is not merely an extension of the Ermenegildo Zegna label. It’s a fascinating brand with an excellent fit that works for daily wear as well as on weekends. Accessories are also strong.” Mammina said an added draw is that the brand “also has entry-price items while remaining in the luxury segment.”

Z Zegna is Zegna’s more fashion-oriented brand and was launched in 2003.

Group chief executive officer Gildo Zegna said upon the launch of the new course of Z Zegna earlier this year that the company was “developing a new business tool to target the evolving and specific needs of the men’s wear market,” with the goal “to gain a solid position in the accessible luxury segment.”

A former head designer of Jil Sander men’s wear, Surridge joined Z Zegna in 2011, succeeding Alessandro Sartori, who left for Berluti, controlled by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. His first collection was for fall 2012. Surridge honed his men’s wear skills at Burberry and Calvin Klein.

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