Zegna’s Trendy I.P.O. Path Raises Question: Is This the Next Big Fashion Trend?

To further ensure its supply chain, Zegna teamed with Prada this year to each buy 40 percent of the Italian cashmere producer Filati Biagioli Modesto, and Mr. Zegna said Zegna might use proceeds from the I.P.O. to further invest in Italian textile manufacturing.

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Control over production has the added benefit of ensuring traceability and sustainability, an increasing focus of the younger generation of customers Zegna is courting. One of the brand’s most celebrated assets is Oasi Zegna, the sprawling Italian park in Trivero, Piedmont, the brand’s hometown, which was created by Zegna’s founder to preserve the local ecosystem that is 30 times the size of New York’s Central Park (as the company boasts in the investor deck it prepared for the SPAC). During the interview, Mr. Zegna proudly pointed to his sneakers, made from recycled components, and the fact that the brand now has a program to reconfigure the scraps of fabric left on the cutting room floor so they no longer go to waste.

But even with quality and supply chain on its side, Zegna, as a public company, will be competing with the French giants of luxury that have spent decades plucking up the world’s best known brands. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which has amassed a stable of over 75 brands including Tiffany & Company, Dior and Pucci, has grown to a market capitalization of nearly $400 billion. Kering, the owner of labels like Gucci and Saint Laurent, is worth nearly $100 billion.

“One part of the reason we did what we did is because of scale,” Mr. Zegna said of the decision to go public. “Scale — it’s our agenda — don’t ask me how big scale would be, but surely bigger than what it is right now.”

He could not be drawn out to discuss future acquisitions, but Zegna took one of its first steps toward that to-do list with its acquisition in 2018 of the New York fashion label Thom Browne, whose shrunken suits and penchant for ironic interpretations of preppiness have made it popular among a younger group of customers than the core Zegna clientele. Since becoming part of Zegna, the brand has gone into children’s wear, with a strong presence in Korea and China, and Mr. Zegna said there are plans for further expansion. (Mr. Browne, who remains the brand’s creative head, and Rodrigo Bazan, its chief executive, will join Mr. Zegna to ring the opening bell at the New York exchange on Monday.)

A collaboration with the haute American streetwear brand Fear of God in 2020 also helped heighten Zegna’s cool factor, and Mr. Zegna said there were more such limited edition collections in the works.

China, which has helped power luxury’s resurgence, remains crucial to the nascent group’s growth, Mr. Zegna said. Though Chinese tourism drove industry growth before the pandemic, the market has shifted to a local model, Mr. Zegna said. Luxury goods sales in China have doubled since 2019, according to Bain, and the region represents about 21 percent of the overall market. Zegna, which went into China in the 1990s, now does about half its business in the greater region.

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