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Luxury's 25 Most Innovative Brands: Ermenegildo Zegna

Jill Newman

Since 1910 Ermenegildo Zegna has been a masterful producer of Italian textiles. But there is a touch of surprise in its impeccably classic suits: They are made from some of the most cutting-edge materials in menswear. These fabrics are developed in Zegna’s 103-year-old textile mill in Biella, Italy, where the finest raw materials (see “Fashion’s Flock”) are engineered to perform beyond the expected. For example, the brand’s Cool Effect wool has reflective properties that allow dark fabrics to remain significantly cooler than untreated fabrics, and the Micronsphere finish renders fine materials resistant to stains. This fall, Zegna moved the needle forward again with a luxurious collection of suits (shown) made from ZegnaSilk, a proprietary fabric that gives silk a winter weight and a cashmere-like feel.

Now in the hands of fourth-generation family members, Zegna is being closely watched by the fashion world after its hiring of the designer Stefano Pilati, the former creative director at Yves Saint Laurent. Pilati joined Zegna early this year with the goal of bringing a more modern sensibility to the couture collection, starting with the spring 2014 designs. It is a fitting directive, considering that this forward-thinking brand is constantly creating ways to use its expertise beyond its lines of suits, sportswear, and accessories. It has collaborated with Maserati on a series of limited-edition Quattroportes and with Girard-Perregaux on timepieces. In September, not long after the reopening of its Beverly Hills store, Zegna will unveil the Personalization Project, which will allow clients to create custom patterns and colors and have their names woven in the selvage of the fabric. Once again, Zegna demonstrates its dedication to individualism while never losing its own identity. 212.421.4488, www.zegna.com

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