New York Fashion Week was among these stops, affording the opportunity to talk with the two executives about the differences between “soft” and “hard” luxury, what they would design if they ran each other’s company, the lacklustre bulletproofing qualities of hand-woven silk, and the lure of “adorable imperfection”.
Brett Berk: Take us back to the beginning: how did you decide that this was a good idea?
Gildo Zegna: I think we have two similar luxury brands. We go after a luxury customer worldwide, we are two venerable companies over 100 years old, we come from the same region and, you know, why not do something together?
Harald Wester: I asked my people: what could we do with a partner in the luxury industry which would offer something to our customers, but also their customers – something which none of us could do alone? And Zegna was top of the list.
What are the points of overlap between Maserati and Zegna?
Zegna: Modernity, international market, performance, quality, style, Italianity, affluence. And fun. I think that it’s fun to drive and to wear a car. Sitting inside, with the silk interior [of the Zegna Limited Edition], you feel this cocoon effect that, personally, I don’t think you feel in leather. Maybe leather has a sportier touch to it than fabric, but I think that you feel more at home with silk.
Wester: Rarely have two very different companies shared so many things. And in particular, have the same mindset in what we want to bring our customers. Neither of us accepts the word impossible. If we desire to do something, we will find a way to get it done.
What specifically does Maserati bring to Zegna in this collaboration, and what does Zegna bring to Maserati?
Zegna: I think that Maserati brings a sexy masculinity. The music of their engine is unique. I think no other car in the world has that. And so, it’s that music that added to our brand, adds a particular sex appeal.
Wester: With our being a car company committed to the technological, Zegna are very helpful in reminding us to focus on warmth. We are a steel industry. They are softer. I want our customers to have an emotional relationship with our product. And if everything is perfect, cold, technocratic, the maximum relationship you can have with this thing is, you own it. When you don’t feel a part of it, it does not extend your personality. If you take even the best handmade jacket, and compare this to a perfectly machined, produced part, you will find some errors. You can see it is handmade. Together we are redeveloping, how should I say, the adorable imperfection.
If you, Gildo, could bring any material into a car interior, regardless of safety or regulatory concerns, what would it be?
Zegna: After having tried silk, probably cashmere. Or a blend of cashmere and silk, because the cashmere gives the luxury and the warmth, and silk gives you the sheen, the summer part. I think that playing with blends is a lot of fun. Take two natural fibres and work together. To me that would be an interesting frontier.
If you, Harald, could build a suit out of any material, what materials would you like to see included in a men’s suit?
Wester: I love the blend between the most precious natural materials, and the most precious synthetics. Perhaps a combination of cashmere, silk, carbon fibre and Kevlar? And something that could change colour, or change structure – memory material, very very thin metal, almost like an armour. In the Middle East and Russia, people are providing and selling suits that are pretty much protective from bullets, but they have the consistency of a normal suit. And this is something, which… well, silk will never go there.
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