Ermenegildo Zegna, Simon Collins and Toby Bateman at the Core: Club

NEW YORK — Tailored clothing is still a tough sell online. But thanks to a focus on casualwear, the new partnership between Ermenegildo Zegna and Mr Porter has been a success.

In an interview prior to a conversation for members of the Core: Club here Monday night, Toby Bateman, managing director of Mr Porter, said he was “very pleased with the results in the seven weeks of trade. Our top tier of clients has reacted [positively].”

And while there is a smattering of Zegna suits on the site, it is the brand’s sportswear that is garnering the most interest, along with shoes, which are “quite good,” Bateman said. The London-based Mr Porter added Zegna to its stable of brands in July.

Gildo Zegna, chief executive officer of the Italian luxury brand, added of the sales results: “We expected that. E-commerce is going more in that direction.”

With clothing, Zegna said the “human touch” is still paramount to ensure the right fit for the luxury shopper. “The eye of an expert is important,” he said.

Bateman added that with Zegna and other luxury brands offered on the Mr Porter site, “what we’ve done is present the younger side of the collection: slimmer jackets, slimmer shirts, slimmer jeans, more sportswear. And we’re editing those collections in a more relaxed and contemporary way.”

While having the best brands is important, he said it’s offering relevant content that has enabled Mr Porter to stand out from its competitors. “We’re very proud of the brands we have, but if we didn’t have editorial content, our customers wouldn’t understand it. Content gives them inspiration and advice. Men don’t like to ask for opinions so we offer an anonymous place where they can get it.”

“It’s like entering a fine special store,” Zegna said of the web site.

Over the years, Zegna too has learned the value of content.

In June, the company named Gildo Zegna’s son, Edoardo, as its new head of omnichannel initiatives as it shifted its focus online to zero in more on gathering digital information, provide visual presentations and telling stories.

“We see the omnichannel world as a service proposition,” Zegna said, one that affords today’s shopper the “freedom of choice to make their lives easier rather than just an additional point of sale, which is how we started.”

He said this shift was introduced six months ago in Europe, over the summer in the U.S. and will be offered in Asia next year. The change allows Zegna to better understand its customers’ shopping history, set up appointments, speed made-to-measure orders and work with personal stylists.

“There’s a new digital world today,” he said, adding that the reaction from customers so far has been “positive.”

He expects omnichannel to become even more important as seasonless fashion continues to gain ground, particularly in men’s wear. “I think it’s going to be less about season and more about projects,” he said.

This will translate into more limited-edition offerings and a more-localized approach to sales, he believes. “And our omnichannel commitment will push us more in that direction,” Zegna said.

The appointment of Alessandro Sartori as artistic director for Zegna is also expected to give the brand a boost.

“He’s a volcano,” Zegna said. “Luxury is not easy, but with a new approach, we will see results. We need to make [our customer] come to us more often and give him a reason to buy.”

Sartori’s first collection for Zegna will be unveiled in January for fall 2017.

After his experience at Berluti, which is best known for its leather goods, Sartori is also expected to enhance the leather accessories offering at Zegna, another category that is traditionally strong online.

“Accessories are a big part of our business,” Bateman said.

During the more-formal part of the evening, Simon Collins, founder of Fashion Culture Design, served as a moderator, asking the executives to take on topics ranging from Zegna’s long family history to Mr Porter’s association with its sister brand, Net-a-porter. It was followed by a question-and-answer session for Core: Club members and a visit to the Zegna/Mr Porter pop-up that was installed in the club for the event.

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