Z for Zegna

My father was an Armani man, but his thirtysomething son was a Zegna dude. Since the turn of the millennium the majority of the suits and sportcoats I’ve purchased and owned have been from Ermenegildo Zegna’s ready-to-wear line, most of them being made from whatever “Trofeo” grade wool looked most outrageous at the moment. Just last year I bought what will likely be my final pair of Zegna coats; the future for me is mostly Hickey Freeman on the low end and Richard Anderson on the high.

Like the nice folks at Rolex, the Zegna family has managed to put a relatively upscale and reasonably exclusive face on a company that moves a whole lotta product. Rolex makes over a million watches a year; Zegna is the largest upscale fashion brand with boutiques across the globe and a vertically-integrated manufacturing operation that does Armani and other brands behind the scenes. It’s all relative, of course. Rolex did $4.7 billion worth of sales last year and Zegna did a quarter of that. Still, it takes quite a few $11,000 watches or $3500 sportcoats to make those numbers.

Those of you who gag at the idea of paying motorcycle prices for machine-made suits might want to read the new Grailed piece on the history of Zegna. It’s impressive, to say the least. The company has never deviated from its vision. More importantly, in an era where most “luxury brands” are mere tentacles of LVMH or Richemont, the man who runs Ermenegildo Zegna today is named after the founder, who happens to be his grandfather. The company controls production from sheep to showroom floor. I’ll also say that they make a hell of a product. Eleven years ago I managed to fall out of a moving car while doing something remarkably stupid. I landed on my back and elbows, which were covered by a 1997-era Zegna standard-issue tweed coat. The impact was strong enough to scrape my skin beneath the clothes, but the Zegna coat remained intact and I wore it for another five years before misplacing it due to alcohol consumption at a press event. Try doing that with your Chinese sportcoat, why dontcha?

40 Replies to “Z for Zegna”

  1. mdm08033@aol.com

    Sorry man, I can’t swing Zegna or Corneliani anymore. I was pleased to get a budget Ralph Lauren suit at Macy’s that was Made In Canada.

    Reply
        • yamahog

          It’s hard to measure the content of one’s heart. The fraction of one’s net worth in nikes and aftermarket rims is an excellent proxy though.

          Reply
        • Ronnie Schreiber

          One can’t know the content of others’ hearts. I evaluate people based on their behaviors and try to assume stupidity before malice.

          $100 says that I’ve had more black folks in my house in the past year than you have had. No, your maid doesn’t count. Do you trust any of your black friends with keys to your house?

          My extended family is likely more ethnically diverse than yours. I was at a family bris on Monday. The father is Hispanic. My cousin Aryeh (named after my father, OBM), married a brilliant black lady last month. I can post video of the chuppah if you’d like to join in the celebration.

          Reply
  2. Bigtruckseriesreview

    When I watch movies and I hear someone brag about a “$2000 suit” I have to laugh because my suits actually cost more than that. I’m 6’7 damn near and I have my suits custom made. Then write it off as a business expense.

    Reply
  3. Thomas KreutzerThomas Kreutzer

    This is a window into a world that I will never understand. I made the transition from Carhartts and coveralls to suits about 20 years ago and, even though I wear them every day, still have little idea about what how to select a a suit or a sport coat. I go in, I find something I like, get it adjusted so it fits, and then wear it until it becomes so threadbare that a replacement is mandatory.

    In an attempt to break that cycle, I took a plunge when I visited Hong Kong a year or two ago and had a couple of suits and a sport coat made. It’s probably the first custom made clothing I’ve owned since my mom hand sewed a Halloween costume for me when I was about six years old. They fit well and look nice to my eye, but I am sure a fashion plate can spot me for the poser I am from a mile and a half away.

    Whatever, I doubt anyone is going to say anything to my face about it. I still have enough working class attitude to happily knock the crap out of anyone bold enough to pop off about the way I look. I wear that shit on my shirtsleeve no matter how I’m dressed.

    Reply
  4. -Nate

    I suppose I should go buy a decent suit so I’ll have one to be buried in…..

    I’m told the tux I rented for my Son’s wedding eight years ago was an Armani, it fit well and I got a _lot_ of compliments on how well I “cleaned up” .

    Back when I still wore a Sport Coat on dates or whatever, people would ask me if I was a Cop or Detective .

    -Nate

    Reply
  5. rambo furum

    The caption of the second photo in their article clearly belongs to the top photo.

    All I know about Zegna is from Nick Cage in “The Family Man” and that they did those garish 25 colored “Venticinque” ties a few years back. However, I think any real tweed should have taken the punishment described. Admittedly, lots of sad crap is called tweed nowadays by the chintzy whisperweight fabric crowd.
    My understanding was that Zegna brand fabrics had some hierarchy such that a suit boasting of Zegna fabric did not particularly mean particularly much.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I think any suit you get with Zegna fabric is probably semi-decent at the very least.

      I’ve never bothered with a third-party suit that uses Zegna fabric; I’ve always bought the house brand, usually Trofeo. But Saks Off 5th will usually sell you a “Zegna” suit for $600 or thereabout, made (partially) in Italy with entry-level wool.

      Reply
  6. Ronnie Schreiber

    I was wondering why I never really cared about clothes until I bought a seersucker suit to wear at the summer NAMM show last year in Nashville. I have short, stocky legs, a long trunk and long arms, and I’m chubby. To end up with something that fit and looked good, I had to buy something that needed about $90 worth of alterations. The tailor pretty much had to recut the suit.

    Reply
  7. SIV

    This post reminds me I should semi-retire my 30 y/o Hein-Gericke and get a nice used Schott. Until the low breaks 56 I’m not wearing any kind of coat or jacket unless it is to repel rain. Wool is only year-round for socks.

    Reply
    • Thomas KreutzerThomas Kreutzer

      I’ve bought a Schott A2 shortly after I bought my first bike back in 1986. In those days, there was no internet to help teach people about riding so I had no idea what would make a good, safe jacket. I was out riding around and got cold. I ended up at the local “surplus” shop and just happened to have enough money in my pocket. I still have it around here somewhere – the shell is as good as ever but the liner, the elastic around the bottom, the pockets and even the zipper are just plain shot. I never crashed in it, and that’s probably a good thing.

      If I was buying a motorcycle jacket today, I think I would opt to have Bates Leathers make me something custom. I’ve been on their website more than a few times over the years but have never pulled the trigger because the whole measure yourself thing make me worry. I feel like I;d screw that up somehow. Bates would be smart to partner with some men’s clothing stores who could do the measuring – hell, I’d even have paid for it if it had meant getting the right coat…

      Reply
      • Ronnie Schreiber

        Thomas,

        Call Reed Sportswear in Detroit, ask for Rosco, tell him that I gave you his name. Most of their goods are imported but they still have a small crew in Detroit and they still make motorcycle apparel, sized, to order.

        http://reedsportswear.com/category/motorcycle-leather/

        On a historical note, I can’t say it with 100% certainty, but there’s a good chance that the leather jacket Marlon Brando wore in The Wild One was made by Reed. Sources say it was either Schott or Buco but Buco didn’t make their own jackets, Reed made them and the movie stills match Reed’s jacket, which they still make, using the same patterns and machines. Mark Silver, whose parents started Reed with his aunt and uncle, is a neighbor and friend and he verified to me that they made Buco’s apparel.

        http://reedsportswear.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/51dK7eBKLnL.jpg

        http://hanabi.autoweek.com/sites/default/files/styles/gen-932-524/public/Marlon-Brando.jpg

        Reply
      • -Nate

        Both of my ‘fatal’ Moto collisions I was wearing ballistic nylon Police spec jackets, both did an admirable job and had to be cut off .

        I rarely wear any jacket unless i’m out riding, then it’s mandatory for me .

        Suit/Sport, out door coats, etc., I don’t like until it’s close to 50* F .

        I should prolly look into these Reed Moto jackets but I rarely wear leather here in California .

        -Nate

        Reply
        • Thomas KreutzerThomas Kreutzer

          My last motorcycle specific jacket was an armored mesh setup. Prior to that, I never owned anything specifically made for motorcycling and certainly nothing with armor – although I did spring for several nice pairs of motorcycle specific gloves over the years. Shortly after I got the jacket, I also went ahead and purchased a set of mesh pants, as well.

          it wasn’t until I became a member of Sportbikes.net that I really began to get an understanding of the true dangers of riding and the sorts of things I could wear to mitigate the risks. At the same time, that started to take a lot of the fun out of riding. The days when I could finish mowing the lawn and jet down to the corner store wearing nothing more than a half-helmet were done. Riding meant suiting up and, when I finally moved down out of the hills where wonderful riding roads began at the end of my driveway, the whole thing became a huge hassle.

          In the end, I rode for more than 20 years – often every day and even in Japan where I did all the crazy lane splitting BS you can see on you tube – and never had an accident that required so much as a band aid. I’m not going to say I was incredibly lucky, but God looks out for children and fools…

          Reply
          • -Nate

            When I was young they said “looks after drunks & fools” and I’m old and don’t drink so………

            I’ve been invited to a Vintage Honda Tech Gathering 3.31.18 so I’m going to have to move my try to ride date up a bit .

            Closed face helmets give me claustrophobia so I wear 1/2 or 3/4 lids with vintage style Vari Shield face covers .

            Gets -really- cold in there when it’s near freezing .

            I’d pop $600 for a really nice black suit if I new where to go here in La La Land…

            Hopefully I’ll never need to wear it but it’s good to have it just in case .

            -Nate

          • sabotenfighter

            The ATGATT guys and their scare tactics really seem to suck the fun out of riding. It’s so damn humid here that I basically can only get away with a leather jacket in late fall through winter, without looking like a total pig when I get to my destination. When I first started I had a half leather half mesh armored ICON jacket. It was fine most of the time, but still got pretty damn hot in summer.
            Nowadays, when I do ride, Ill throw on something decent for anything longer than just around the neighborhood, or higher speed.

            Has being a father made you want to ride less? Especially in the US? Or didn’t phaze you?

            Nate, you’re a lucky man. After my dad had his face partially ripped off (and thankfully reattached, with reduced vision in one eye) while wearing a 3/4 helmet, I vowed to wear nothing but full-face, regardless of how hot and uncomfortable it might make me.

          • Thomas KreutzerThomas Kreutzer

            Becoming a father did affect my desire to ride but, even though safety was on my mind, I attribute the change more towards time management. I really couldn’t use the bike for my commute, mostly because I was living in Okinawa and the weather was a problem – you already mentioned the heat and Okinawa has that in spades along with pretty regular torrential rainstorms. That meant that I had to ride on my own time and, rather than take off on the weekends, I decided that being at home with the family was more important.

            The other issue was my move down from the hills into more urban areas. I lived right in the middle of some great riding roads and could go for a 30 to 60 minute blast any time I wanted. I’d come back refreshed and then get on with my day. Now that we live in the city, I have to ride out someplace to ride and then come back. That adds a lot of time and it’s just no fun for me to grind my way out there and back.

            My problem with wearing less gear close to home was that I was still getting out there and raising hell. Because we were out in the sticks, I’d regularly hit 50 or 60 mph in that short run to and from the store. I suppose I could have taken it easy, but I loved staging up in front of the store and doing that dragstrip launch…

          • -Nate

            Yes ;

            I’m keenly aware of just how lucky I am, this was my second ‘fatal’ Moto crash, I’ll never walk nor look normal again but I -do- hope to ride by Feb. 31st……

            Fatherhood made me care about safer riding, it also induced me to send my Son to proper MSF Iron Horse Motocycle training, naturally he’s a far better ride than I ever was, faster too ~ I don’t like racing on a Moto, seeing people die cured me of that in the 1970’s .

            -Nate

  8. sabotenfighter

    My hands down favorite tie in my collection is a Ermenegildo Zegna navy and black striped tie. Its heavy and thick and makes a perfect knot every time. Received it as a gift from a college girlfriend. Turned me into a customer of theirs. Only one thing has let me down, but more due to personal taste. I got a nice pebble grain soft leather Zegna bi-fold wallet for Christmas a couple years ago (another gift from a girlfriend), but it was an Asian market model, so they put this big stupid coin pouch in it. Caused the wallet to be so thick when empty that it hurt my back to actually use and sit on. I tried to exchange it at the closest shop, but they told me that since it was bought at a department store (tax free in Singapore) and not a boutique in Japan, they could not/would not exchange it for the identical one without the pouch. GF was pretty upset about me not using it, and its far too high market or at least unpopular a brand for most people in Nagoya to want to buy, even discounted a fair bit.

    Reply
  9. Aoletsgo

    I do not dress up – not ever.
    Blue jeans, nice shirt, hiking boots are everyday fare.
    However, my daughter gets married this spring so the question is a custom tailored suit or “Zegna” something altered. The custom suit would be from Alexander’s in Northville, if anybody has reviews. I know they do anything from the local big shot business man, to pro athletes and coaches like Mike Babcock.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Taking a quick look at Alexander’s I suspect they are a “made-to-measure” shop. They measure you and then the actual garment is done in Hong Kong or Eastern Europe. You might want to ask.

      My opinion: get yourself a Hickey Freeman suit from Saks Off 5th at $700-900 and then spend $100 having it tailored. That’s the best value if you’re not snobby or style-obsessed.

      Reply
      • Aoletsgo

        “My opinion: get yourself a Hickey Freeman suit from Saks Off 5th at $700-900 and then spend $100 having it tailored.”
        One thing I do know is that if I don’t know then rely on an expert you trust.
        So
        I went to Saks Off and got me a Hickey Freeman Classic-Fit Milburn in Long. They did not have the long in stock so they are shipping it to me. The price nobody ever pays was $1,495, I got it for $432 + tax.
        Alexander’s does have great reviews for their tailoring so I will support them by taking the suit there for alterations.

        Reply
        • -Nate

          Reading about you rich guys and your suits flabbergasts me .

          I have a $250.00 J.C. Penny suit I bought twenty years ago, it fits O.K., right now I’m trying to figure out how to close the deal and pay for an $800.00 pickup truck…..

          I must admit I get vicarious thrills reading about all the bespoke things you alls buy .

          -Nate

          Reply
          • Aoletsgo

            Oh shucks Nate you know everything is relative.
            In my hood I am the poor man who dresses like a slob.
            I have had a couple of other suits in my life but have given them away
            So this will be my one and only
            Marrying and Burying suit.

          • -Nate

            @AOletsGO ;

            Yes, just so .

            I’d like to have a really nice Tux like the one I rented when my Son got married but I never have any need to wear a suit .

            I too enjoy the tangible aspect of owning what I think are fine things, my Son will prolly shitcan tens of thousands of dollars worth of tools new and old I have collected over the decades, my ‘Dickeys’ work wear is all worthless as are my $100 steel toe/shank wing tip shoes….

            I still find it amazing to own so many bespoke high end things, it’s fun to read about and wonder how it might be to live like that .

            -Nate

  10. MrGreenMan

    Could you imagine how cool you would look wearing that suit in a 1991 Toronado Trofeo? (1991 because you would get the big butt along with the space-age digital screen and increased HP from the 3800…)

    Reply
  11. -Nate

    _WAIT_ !

    ? get married again ?!? .

    WHT do you alls have have planned for me now ? .

    I’m trying to buy a MOTOCYCLE not put a ring in my nose thankyouverymuch =8-) .

    -Nate

    Reply

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