What can digital add to the experience of the physical show? Storytelling, according to Ermenegildo Zegna artistic director Alessandro Sartori. While the company expects to return to the live format in January, the designer thinks that digital will continue to play a key role to reach a wider audience and share the story behind the clothes.

For Sartori, the pandemic didn’t only showcase the power of digital, but strongly accelerated a process of transformation in consumers’ approach to fashion. “I think we are going through a very exciting moment, where we are radically changing the way we design and sell the collections,” said Sartori.

While he thinks that classic formalwear will continue to be relevant in the luxury world of bespoke and customization, ready-to-wear has to adopt to meet the new needs of today’s consumers.

His spring 2022 collection pointed to a new path for the brand, and Sartori questioned the traditional idea of suiting. “The suit now becomes a combination of separates,” he said, explaining that the brand will now give retailers and consumers the chance to create their own suit combining pants with a range of matching tops.

This new approach to suiting was the main theme of the beautiful video that the company created to present its latest collection.

Filmed in different locations across Italy, the video showed models running across a labyrinth in the huge park surrounding the castle of Masino in Piedmont and then they are suddenly catapulted into a more industrial space where they walk down the stairs of the new building of Milan’s IULM university. The distinctive architecture of the Monte Amiata housing complex in another Milanese district, which was built by Carlo Aymonino and Aldo Rossi in the late ’60s, offered another impressive backdrop for the runway show that ended with a waterside dinner in the Rho Fiera area.

Fashion-wise, the collection felt like an ode to comfortable elegance with a relevant cool factor. Utility uniforms from the 1940s and 1950s served as starting point for the lineup’s overall spirit, merging urban sophistication with practical functionality.

Baggy or slightly roomy pants were paired with boxy jackets with kimono sleeves. They featured a range of details, including straps and inside buttons to allow multiple fits. Over shirts, rendered in a wide selection of materials, from linen and stretch knit to supple leather, stood out, as did charming sweaters with 3D effects.

The overall sense of lightness and relaxed elegance was heightened by the delicate pastels, such as lilac and pistachio green, along side refined neutrals, including tobacco brown, blue and military green.

Softness and comfort also defined the accessories. Bags with multiple pockets were crafted from kangaroo leather, that was also used for padded chunky loafers and slip-ons with elastic inserts.

With this collection, the Ermenegildo Zegna brand made a bold statement, in tune with the times and its legacy of textile experimentation and elegant dressing.