2016 has produced many pieces on struggling industrial tailoring embodied by Italian firms like Zegna, Brioni, and Kiton.
The other day Financial Times had a long interview with Zegna’s new chief designer and brand director, Alessandro Sartori. Being a businessman behind the creative appearance Sartori looks for ways to surge sales. The solution turns out to be a flexible, learning brand. Instead of controlling the brand experience rigorously, Sartori wants Zegna to co-create the brand with the consumer.
I don’t know, if that strategy will improve Zegna’s sales. Many businesses have begun following that path today. Nonetheless it is interesting to read Sartori’s reflections on Zegna, and what Zegna has to do.
A few quotes from the interview with Alessandro Sartori:
“The conversation between the brand, the designer and the final customer is becoming very important,” says Alessandro Sartori.
Integral to his plan will be the scope to incorporate last-minute trends or ideas.
“We will have the normal deliveries, but 20 to 30 per cent we can deliver according to how we feel. So if in September I have a strong feeling for something that could be good for Christmas, I could design it today with my team, finish the designs by Monday, launch the prototypes, buy the fabric, and off we go.”
“If you want that sweater or that leather jacket in your colour or size, you need to be able to have it,” he says. “If not, the customer just sees images but then it’s not in the store, or in your size, or it’s already sold. We need to be able to produce every product you want. It’s part of the full project of being real, and not just doing a show which is beautiful but is only for the pleasure of doing a show.”
Sartori is keen to point out that this is no criticism of Pilati. He is wearing a suit jacket by his predecessor, and repeatedly praises the young team of designers that Pilati recruited. “I’m not criticising the past,” he insists. “I’m just telling you, it’s difficult if you have a lot of people in charge of the lines. The idea is to create a transition in order to be able to write a new grammar in men’s tailoring.”
“If you look back at the past century, there were big steps,” he says of the evolution of modern menswear. “Suddenly you don’t see men in hats. Then you don’t see vests or waistcoats. Then you don’t see ties. I think we are at one of those big steps where everything is changing again. It is about blending everything, about the mix of tailoring and sportswear.” It is a change that is natural for younger men, more unnerving for older. Nonetheless, the change is happening. It’s why Sartori wants to oversee both the formal and casual collections: the customer is often the same guy.
“If you’re coming to buy, it’s your decision,” he says. “I want you to look good and feel good. Because we all know in the morning, if we wear a garment we like, we feel better. We need to be connected with the customers. It’s not any more about numbers, it’s about quality of relationships.”
Read the the whole story on Financial Times’s website: Can this man save the suit?