The Zegna Man

Ermenegildo Zegna is without doubt one of the biggest names in fashion.We met the man himself to talk about his personal style and to learn the secret of running a successful family empire.

Bibek Bhattacharya        Print Edition: July 13, 2008

Ermenegildo Zegna is without doubt one of the biggest names in fashion.We met the man himself to talk about his personal style and to learn the secret of running a successful family empire.

Zegna Sartoria suits available from Rs 70,000-1,40,000; Zegna Couture suits from Rs 1,40,000-1,80,000
He looks calm and collected in his beige two-button suit, smiling politely and with practised ease. For Ermenegildo Zegna, CEO of the brand that bears his name, fashion and the business of fashion go hand-in-hand. In India on a whirlwind tour before his company launches two new stores in Bangalore and New Delhi, Zegna is effusive.

Founded in 1910 by Ermenegildo’s grandfather, also called Ermenegildo, Zegna the brand started life as a factory, producing some of the best fabrics in Italy. But it was only with the next generation, in the ‘60s, that the brand branched out into menswear. The Success Story: So, how has he managed to keep the business within the family even today?

What’s the secret of its success? “We do it through discipline,” he says, without any hesitation. “We value the family name and the brand over all things, and we always do what’s best for it. For us, long-term growth will be better because we are a family business, and because we run it like a public company.

Every member of the family has to work elsewhere first before working at Zegna.” Menswear Rules: For the last 60 years or so, the brand has been known for its superior quality menswear, but the focus has never shifted from the importance of the fabric. “Your suit is as good as the fabric; it is the foundation of what you wear,” he says. India Inc.: With a healthy turnover and great success in China over the last decade, India is on the brand’s radar. “To enter into a market like India or China, you need to take risks. In China, it went the right way, and I hope for the same in India,” he says.

Know Your Ceo

Education: Harvard Business School

First Job: Two years as a buyer for Bloomingdales before joining Zegna in the early ‘80s

Hobbies: Golf and skiing. He is also an avid swimmer

Away from Work: He likes being with his wife and children. “I have so little time away from work. I try to spend as much spare time as I can with my family

Bottom Line: Keep the customer happy

 

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