MILAN — “Addressing the forgotten guy in fashion,” is the ultimate goal of Agnona creative director Simon Holloway, who is relaunching the brand’s men’s division.
The label under the Ermenegildo Zegna Group is making a comeback to the men’s arena after a 20-year hiatus with the fall 2020 collection, which will make its debut on the catwalk of the Agnona women’s show in February in Milan.
“Agnona made men’s clothes for many years and then they stopped in 2000 apparently. However, it was really the Eighties and the Nineties were the heyday of the Agnona men’s wear,” said Holloway, who joined the brand in 2015, succeeding former creative director Stefano Pilati. “But looking back, what was interesting was that, much like in women’s wear, it was a collection based on jersey tailoring, knitwear, outerwear, not a tailored suiting collection. We are lucky to start from a place that feels very contemporary.”
According to Holloway, the company realized that there is space in the men’s market for a brand offering luxury collections injected with an effortless, laid-back and sort of timeless spirit.
“There is plenty of stuff which is very traditional and there is plenty of wonderful things made by forward-thinking designers,” he said. “What’s missing is something that feels very masculine, luxurious and has a kind of casual sensibility without being streetwear. Something that you can feel that you are dressed properly. And whether you are wearing a pair of sneakers, or a pair of loafers, or a pair of more rugged boots, the clothes feel appropriate.”
For his men’s collection, the designer said he “reimaged Agnona for today’s men,” adding that he developed a “knitwear and jersey-driven” lineup, focused on luxury fabrics, great textures and a sensitive masculine color palette. “What I wanted to keep is the purity of the Agnona signatures that we have been redeveloping since I arrived here. We definitely borrowed a few of the signature fabrics and the whole ethos of the women’s collection.”
Among some of the most recurring elements of the women’s line that he introduced in the men’s collection, counting around 50 pieces, there are recycled cashmere and wool double-faced fabrics, as well as a denim vibe running within the textures and the knitwear.
Offering a distinctive take on the luxury Italian sportswear tradition, Holloway developed an effortlessly chic collection injected with a polished, masculine, Ivy League feel.
Playing with classic masculine patterns, such as plaids, Buffalo checks, herringbones, bleached madras and Prince of Wales, as well as with a color palette where neutral tones of blue, gray and vicuña were juxtaposed with watery shades of indigo and green, the designer created a wardrobe of essential pieces crafted from high-end fabrications. These included over shirts, duffle and top coats, double faced blazers, cotton and cashmere shirts, as well as a cashmere tweed varsity jacket enriched with leather trimming and patches. The only suit in the collection was crafted from wool and cashmere flannel jersey and featured tailored pants with a jogger attitude. The lineup also showed a rich knitwear offering, spanning from ribbed cardigans to be worn with slouchy pants and cashmere and silk cable-knit sweaters to fine and superfine turtlenecks and crewnecks and fully fashioned knitted T-shirts.
“Men’s wear played a significant role in the history and DNA of the brand, it was extremely successful,” said Agnona chief executive officer Alessandra Carra, who joined the brand in 2014 from Emilio Pucci. “I think that our aesthetic is naturally linked with the world of men’s wear and with this new line we will offer our own take on men’s fashion focusing on modern design and noble materials.”
According to the executive, the men’s business is expected to account for 35 percent of Agnona’s total revenues within five years.
“We strongly believe that the men’s market has huge potential and we are aware of the fact that many customers currently can’t find what they are looking for in stores,” Carra said.
She also highlighted that while the men’s line will find places in all the brand’s stores around the world, the wholesale distribution will be very selective and limited to a maximum of 30 accounts.
Agnona operates eight stores in the world and is about to inaugurate two new locations — in Sylt, Germany, and St. Petersburg — by March. In addition, two other units are expected to open in the second semester of the year. Agnona also operates 12 shops-in-shop in major department stores, including Harrods, Saks and Bergdorf Goodman, and distributes its collections to about 200 global accounts.
Even if Carra couldn’t reveal figures — Agnona’s numbers are included in the Ermengildo Zegna Group’s consolidated financial statements — she said the performance of the brand’s retail network is very satisfying and that the business in the U.S. has doubled in the last few years. Russia and Japan are also key markets for the brand, which is also available in Korea, which it entered in 2019 with a store at Seoul’s Galleria Department Store. However, Agnona is still not present in China.
“That’s the next step,” Carra said. “We wanted to consolidate our business in the Western world before approaching that,” she explained.