Fashion
  • Text Jake Hall
  • Photography Sara Cimino
  • 11th January 2020

Art for Earth

In a world literally burning as we speak, sustainability has never been more important. That’s precisely why designer Alessandro Sartori, current creative director of storied Italian house Ermenegildo Zegna, took the mantra ‘#UseTheExisting’ as a starting point for his FW20 collection.

Even the show space was exemplary; ribbons of leftover Zegna fabric were worked into a huge suspended cube by American artist Anne Patterson, whose multimedia installations always challenge viewers to explore colour and light. Her creation for Zegna was no exception: although it appeared solid from a distance, the cube was actually transparent.

As for the collection itself, neat tailoring with a twist reigned supreme. Three-piece suits came printed with glitchy, high-tech patterns; the lines of their waistcoats curved across the body, deviating from the straight, sharp lines we’re used to seeing. One standout herringbone overcoat was interrupted by the occasional geometric print, a small detail which created a modern take on a menswear classic. These small tweaks added an element of newness to tried-and-tested staples: the collection’s best suit jackets, for example, were sash-tied at the waist.

The real innovation came in terms of fabric, which stayed impressively true to the ‘#UseTheExisting’ ethos. Some were hand-woven from a mixture of natural and synthetic fibers by the young workers of San Patrignano, a drug rehabilitation centre which equips struggling teenagers with vital skills. Others use material which would otherwise be discarded, like Zegna’s famous Achillfarm suiting wool, or the collection’s recycled cashmere.

As designers clamour to make lukewarm statements on sustainability, it’s refreshing to see a brand whose commitment to the planet is built into its DNA. “One experimentation leads to the next,” says Sartori, referencing his innovation-based approach. “[It’s] one seamless dialogue, always keeping in mind that our art should always respect the earth. That’s our mission, as both humans and fashion-makers.”