Ermenegildo Zegna Brings Bespoke Details to Men's Casual Fashion

Jens Mortensen

A custom Ermenegildo Zegna suit is built for boardroom battles and corporate conquests. Now the storied Italian brand is taking on the weekend—one stitch at a time.

The power suit is in a moment of transition. Since Beau Brummell traded panta­loons for pants, men’s ward­robes began and ended with a jacket and matching trousers, with personalizations left to ties and pocket squares. But our defini­tions of power and the corres­ ponding uniform have expanded—the future of power dressing lies somewhere between Gordon Gekko and Mark Zuckerberg. What does that look like?

At Ermenegildo Zegna, they have an idea. The 105­-year-­old stalwart of Italian­made suits and textiles is aiming to bridge the gap with their Made­-to­-Measure Casual Luxury program, bringing the hall­ marks of old­school suiting—bespoke tailoring, exceptional fabrics—to such sportswear essentials as cashmere sweaters and suede safari jackets.

“So many men are dressing more casually in the workplace, but they still want the same attention to fit, de­tail, and premium fabrics that they insist on in their more formal wardrobe,” explains Gildo Zegna, CEO of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group. The answer, says Zegna, is having a “seam­less wardrobe” that’s rounded out with pieces that will keep a man looking poised and polished from the office to the airport and on the weekend. Because, let’s be honest, there’s work to be done even when one is “off­-duty.”

"We’re in a much more permissive era,” says Bruce Pask, men’s fashion direc­tor of Bergdorf Goodman, which of­fers Zegna’s new range as part of a biannual made­to­measure event. “We’ve seen the ascent of sportswear. When men can customize it and make it their own, there’s some­ thing quite appealing about that.”

The Casual Luxury collection is built upon the five pillars of menswear beyond the suit: sport coats, outerwear, knits, shirts, and trousers. While these may be the staples of leisure dressing, they’re crafted with the same hand Zegna’s formal suiting is known for. All are only available made­ to­ measure, which, in ad­dition to ensuring flawless fit, means each style can be tweaked to personal preference. And no one else will have it.

I recently visited Zegna’s Fifth Avenue bou­tique to sample the Casual Luxury process. Landing on a two­-button sport coat with flap pockets and deconstructed shoulders, I turned to choosing my fabric from a gigantic book of cottons, wools, cashmeres, and silks in every possible permutation. (The options are near infinite—on average, one can choose from about 500 different fabrics for any given piece.) The winner was a silk­wool blend in an inky­ blue color, deep indigo flecked with cobalt, with a subtle basket-­weave texture. To pair with it, I chose a spread­-collar shirt in navy­-gingham cotton, relaxed but smart. The price: $4,045.

Also, for very select VIP customers, and a far higher price tag, Zegna offers the ability to have a suit made in a truly one-­of-a­-kind fabric milled to order. If, say, the exact shade of Prussian blue you’re after isn’t already in Zegna’s repertoire, they’ll weave it just for you, even weaving your name into the fabric’s selvage. The fact that a $1.4 billion company will stop a loom to produce a few yards of fabric just for one person is but one example of the lengths Zegna will go to serve a client’s needs.

After all my selections are made, it’s time for the fitting. Since I sometimes wear my shirts untucked, the tailor makes a note to have the shirttails shortened. The buttons are raised to accommodate my short torso; the sleeves narrowed. 

In total, the process takes all of 30 minutes. Beyond that, Zegna’s turnaround time for made­-to­-measure orders is just four weeks (six for outerwear). While the pomp, circumstance, and three-­month wait of Savile Row bespoke is a grand tradition, this is tailoring for the modern man: efficient.

“I’m jealous that I don’t get to wear a beautiful Zegna suit every day,” says Mario Carbone, 35, a regular cus­tomer, and partner in Manhattan res­taurants Santina and Carbone. “I love a three­ piece suit if it’s a special occasion, but it’s much more applicable to my life to put on a blazer or a sweater and wear Zegna in that way.” The brand’s sportswear, says Carbone, does “casual that still has all that craftsman­ship and pedigree.”

As Bergdorf’s Pask puts it, today’s male shoppers are equal-­opportunity aesthetes: “As much as he wants the best tailored clothing, he also wants the best jean, the best sneaker.”

Four weeks after my first fitting, I return to the Zegna store to try the first iteration of my jacket and shirt. While they look pretty close to perfect in my view, the tailor marks the jacket for a few slight adjustments: further narrowing the sleeves, shifting the shoulders forward to align with my natural stance. 

This level of tailoring, all those many details meticulously considered, has always lent well­ dressed men their distinguished air. Extending it to one’s weekend wardrobe is the ultimate power move. “I’m in and out of so many differ­ent scenarios,” says Carbone. “To look smart, to look put together and still be able to bounce between the boardroom and the kitchen—jackpot.” 663 Fifth Ave.; 212-421-4488; zegna.com.