You are here
Sophistication meets subculture
THE BLACK LEATHER BOMBER perhaps sums up the spirit of the collaboration. From a distance, it would not look out of place on the mean streets of any seething metropolis. But touch its luxurious nappa leather and you can instantly tell this is no mass-produced leather bomber. Inspect its back and you'll find a stylised "Zegna" logo embossed across it, in a font that usually distinguishes premium streetwear label Fear Of God.
Ermenegildo Zegna is a 110-year-old Italian atelier synonymous with sophisticated menswear; Fear Of God is a seven-year-old streetwear-influenced brand that emerged from the subcultures of California. While the two labels seem to stand on opposite ends of the menswear spectrum, their collaboration entitled "Fear Of God Exclusively for Ermenegildo Zegna" shows that the twain can meet – and quite spectacularly at that.
When Ermenegildo Zegna's artistic director Alessandro Sartori was first introduced to Fear Of God founder Jerry Lorenzo through a mutual friend about two years ago, the two men found themselves instantly talking on the same wavelength. Although their labels appear aesthetically far apart, their perspectives on menswear are similar. And they quickly set about making plans to collaborate.
Launched in Singapore on Sep 25, the results speak for themselves. Every piece in the Fear Of God Exclusively for Ermenegildo Zegna collection boasts a design element of either label, signalling the absolute trust and respect the men have for each other's design values.
There are dashing coats in 100 per cent brushed wool – but their oversized shoulders seem tailored to accentuate your street swagger. There are suits cut to the exacting standards of Zegna – but the lapels are unexpectedly missing. The flip side of the suits and coats are casual-looking trousers and joggers with knitted waistbands, but which are made out of luxurious washed silk and Donegal wool respectively. This is Zegna still at its finest, but with a touch of sartorial transgression. And, just to be sure, the pieces were all made in Zegna's workshops.
MEETING OF MINDS
Sartori says: "We have worked with great balance, without our egos ever surpassing one another, to create a unique new wardrobe. A perfect synthesis of our two souls – clothes to wear at any time of the day in order to feel good." Lorenzo echoes Sartori's words: "This collaboration is based on mutual respect. When you meet someone for the first time, you immediately understand how far you can go. With Alessandro we understood each other from the very first moment, and this collection naturally evolved from our conversation."
If there's one principle that sets Lorenzo apart from Sartori though, it is that he considers his designs to be perfectly wearable for women too. Oftentimes he watches his wife Desiree Manuel go through his closet to pick out a shirt or hoodie that at first looks too big on her, but which quickly adjusts itself to her feminine frame. Lorenzo says: "I design menswear but I always keep a woman in mind; I really love the way women wear men's clothing."
At the Fear Of God Exclusively for Ermenegildo Zegna photo shoot, Sartori and Lorenzo styled female models in several coats, jackets and oversized shirts. The results are typically striking, with the women appearing strong, fearless and empowered.
Sartori says: "The collection speaks to our Zegna audience just as it does Jerry Lorenzo's, but we believe it can also appeal to a new client, thanks to the mix of Zegna's impeccable tailoring and Fear of God's concept of laid-back luxury." Lorenzo says: "I have always been fascinated by Ermenegildo Zegna clothing and this collaboration provides my clients with the opportunity to experience tailoring stitched with freedom, which I think Zegna customers will also enjoy."
ALL ROADS LEAD TO THIS
Looking at their backgrounds, the men couldn't be more different. Born in Italy, Sartori studied textile engineering, followed by fashion design in Milan. Lorenzo, on the other hand, has a lowermiddle class American upbringing and no formal training in fashion.
In 2003, Sartori became the creative director of Z Zegna, a line geared for a younger crowd. In 2011, he was appointed artistic director of Berluti. Then in 2016 he returned to Zegna, this time as its artistic director with responsibilities across all Zegna brands. He quickly earned raves from fashion lovers and critics.
Lorenzo, on the other hand, worked in the stockroom of Diesel, the marketing department of the Los Angeles Dodgers and party promotion – before scraping together US$14,000 of his savings to start his own label in 2012. His debut collection of streetwear was a success, attracting the attention and support of fellow designer Virgil Abloh. He was soon dressing Justin Bieber, Kendrick Lamar, Kendall Jenner, Beyonce, and Colin Kaepernick, and collaborating with Kanye West on various designs.
Despite their different backgrounds, Sartori and Lorenzo share a common passion and commitment for transforming menswear. Both men want to reimagine a new vocabulary for masculine elegance. Both envisage a contemporary wardrobe for men that breaks down existing paradigms. In various interviews, Lorenzo describes their meeting as "destiny", while Sartori says the collaboration is "only the beginning, as our conversation has just begun". The sartorial richness of their first collection heralds a long and fruitful relationship.