— Milan, Italy
Ermenegildo Zegna founded his family-run label after purchasing his father's cloth looms in 1910. Here we reflect on his pioneering work as an entrepreneur, philanthropist and ecologist that set him way ahead of his time.
His Defining Moment?
Ermenegildo Zegna had a dream – “to make the world’s most beautiful fabrics”. Son of a watchmaker, he founded the company in 1910. At the age of 18 he began buying looms and subsequently opened the Lanificio Zegna wool mill – what was to become one of Italy’s best-known dynamic family businesses. But Ermenegildo’s Zegna’s dream was not just about fabric. He wanted to make his hometown, and the wider world a better place. By 1932, Trivero had a meeting hall, a library, gymnasium, cinema/theatre and public swimming pool. In the space of a few years, he built a medical centre and a nursery school. He understood the quality he sought for his products could not be separated from a positive relationship with the local territory and community. For him, the beauty of the environment and people’s well being were indispensable for a company aspiring to long-term success. His commitment to this remained unwavering, building the 26km road, the “Panoramica Zegna”, and carrying out a massive reforestation plan, planting conifers rhododendrons and hydrangeas – he was in many ways, an ecologist long before the term was invented. He defined many moments for the company, but most importantly to him, he helped define the lives of the people he lived and worked with. He was a pioneering founder, with a legacy that continues to inspire the spirit of the company today.