A FASHION HOUSE IS ON "SAVE THE WORLD" MODE: Ermenegildo Zegna’s #UseTheExisting
Text by Kee | Photos courtesy of Ermenegildo Zegna and William Daniels
Ermenegildo Zegna XXX's spring-summer 2021 show
Oasi Zegna in Northern Italy
Ermenegildo Zegna's 200-sqm space in Green Pea
Green Pea is the world's first Green Retail Park model

While it might seem on-point to spare a thought for our planet, just know that going green shouldn’t be another passing fashion phase. Ermenegildo Zegna understands the drill better than most, having carried forth the environmental pledge made by its namesake founder for majority of its 110-year history. Now, it’s raising the bar of its green game with a new sustainable initiative in #UseTheExisting and a fruitful partnership with Green Pea, the world’s first Green Retail Park.

We bet you probably can’t name a fashion house that started its own nature reserve in a bid to do more for this planet of ours. Well, there’s only one answer to this: Ermenegildo Zegna. And whilst this sounds like a monumental feat for any company let alone a fashion house, it has been humble enough to keep Oasi Zegna as an open secret for decades. 30 times the sizes of New York’s Central Park, Oasi Zegna stretches from Trivero to the peaks of the Biella Alps in Northern Italy. This picturesque landscape has the fashion house’s namesake founder to thank. As early as the 1930s, he planted over 500,000 conifer trees around the mountains near its production facilities in a bid to make the surroundings look better as well as to pay it forward to the planet. But it wasn’t until 1993 that the Zegna family – in a bid to celebrate their forebear’s memory and best practice – launched what we know today as Oasi Zegna. (Watch the brand’s spring-summer 2021 digital presentation in which it used Oasi Zegna as part of the runway for a better idea as to how postcard perfect nature can be.) Now that Ermenegildo Zegna has hit the 110-year milestone, it has made another pledge to do better as a brand and actively regulate its own carbon footprint. Artistic director Alessandro Sartori has taken the initiative to launch what it calls #UseTheExisting. This green blueprint will see the house rethink its supply chain, and rework pre-existing and post-consumer materials to churn out brand new wares. Know that over 30 per cent of raw materials are wasted in a production of a new garment which makes this end goal of zero wastage all the more pressing. And Zegna isn’t waiting for a right moment to start rectifying its approach; the #UseTheExisting initiative has started for its modern tailoring and luxury leisurewear offerings whilst the Ermenegildo Zegna XXX collection will continue to rely on upcycled materials to produce its freshest fits. Similarly, Z Zegna has already launched new wares last year that taps on #UseTheExisting: A range of padded jackets and vests aren’t just goose feather free but they’re also made entirely from recycled polyester without forgoing on the delivery of lightness, waterproofing, and warmth. According to Sartori, #UseTheExisting is a process of introspection for the house – a “state of mind” he says – ensuring that it isn’t just engaging sustainability for the sake of doing so but to start altering the mindset in its own camp that environmental waste is a serious issue that has to be addressed with urgency. It makes sense too that Zegna’s next big step in retail was to be part of the landmark Turin-based Green Pea mall, the brainchild of Italian entrepreneur Oscar Farinetti. This is the first Green Retail Park model of its kind and Zegna’s 200-square-metre shop-in-shop featuring its #UseTheExisting wares is simply apt. The shop even features a miniature walk-through of the beauty that is Oasi Zegna, allowing visitors to get a sneak peek at some of the nature that exists in that real-life earthly paradise. “In an ever-changing world, luxury companies can simply adapt to changes or choose to be a positive force in driving these changes. Our responsibility is to leverage our past to build a better present and future,” says Zegna CEO Gildo Zegna.

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