Z Zegna's guest show at Pitti Uomo (which included a highly entertaining acrobatic extravaganza) marked the relaunch of the label. Zegna Sport has essentially been folded into the Z Zegna range with the intention of creating a line of youthful, high-performance clothes that still focus on quality materials and slick Italian tailoring. Company veterans Paul Surridge (former creative director of Z Zegna) and Murray Scallon (formerly the head designer at Zegna Sport) are now codesigning the rebooted brand, and they both stressed the importance of merging practicality, functionality, integrity, and style.
Z Zegna's Spring '15 was largely based around an on-the-go urban man and his daily commute. This inspiration served the designers well when it came to outerwear. The "motor parka," designed specifically for men who ride a motorbike or a Vespa, was particularly brilliant from a conceptual and aesthetic standpoint. "It's a cross between a short jacket and a cape," explained Scallon. Though it was made out of tech fabric (and thermo-sealed, for that matter), its cut and sweeping silhouette were both masculine and elegant. Snaps down the side allowed for mobility, and there were even straps on the lining that can attach to the leg to prevent wind-induced sartorial mishaps. The chunky cotton-nylon-blend cardigans were great, too, with their beaded texture, deep pockets, and subtle shawl collars.
The suiting is where the pair got more experimental. Zegna has developed a Techmerino fabric, which is made of wool but feels a bit like nylon. This light, breathable, and basically rip-proof material was employed for everything from drawstring-waist shorts and crisp blazers to slim trousers and hooded windbreakers. The intention here was good, but the execution needed finessing. As they strolled down the runway at Florence's Stazione Leopolda, some of the models looked like they were wearing glorified tracksuits rather than Italian-tailored garments. And the sweatshirt-collared shirt hybrids, paired with matching ties, may have been too far afield for Zegna's loyal customers. Catering to a new crowd of potential clients is a good move for a classic brand like Z Zegna, but just because a 20- or 30-something desires practical, comfortable clothes, doesn't mean he wants to feel like he's dressed for the gym while entering the office.
The designers are on the right track, though, given the evolving activewear-as-ready-to-wear trend. They looked to the street for their styling cues, and their sporty slant felt on point. They even created some very luxe sneakers. Offered in a variety of textures and colors, the kicks' tongues and toes featured the brand's emblem—a pentagon—which was also worked into clothing prints and laser-cut linings. "Zegna is a name that's hugely known, but maybe the younger generation still thinks of it as something their father would wear. This collection is all about celebrating the accessibility of what Zegna can be, and making it relevant for a younger generation," said Scallon.