THE MARQUE OF A MAN
ZEGNA CELEBRATES TWENTY YEARS IN CHINA WITH AN EXHIBITION THAT CHRONICLES THE MILESTONES. CHUMKI BHARADWAJ REPORTS FROM BEIJING ON A JOURNEY EXTRAORDINAIRE.
Watching the smog-shrouded sun smirk at the legoed ghettos of downtown Beijing, it’s difficult, at least at first blush, to comprehend the lure of a nation and a people that has held the world in its thrall. China’s extraordinary run of luck and fortune is not to be understood in the grim grey of the unimpressive Beijing skyline, the dour demeanour of unsmiling faces, or the hordes of seniors performing Tai chi in cloistered parks. One look at the Great Wall and the riddle unwraps somewhat; it bespeaks desire, discipline and dedication. Much like a finely tailored suit, its true character is in the smallest details.
It’s an analogy that probably best explains Ermenegildo Zegna’s maiden foray, and subsequent success, into China’s uncharted luxury market in 1991, just two years after the Tiananmen Square showdown. Not the most opportune time to explore a commercial venture, much less finding customers able to afford its pricey men’s suits, the move exemplified Zegna’s pioneering spirit. What’s more, they opened their first store at the Peninsula Hotel in Beijing, then owned by the People’s Liberation Army. No mean feat that. “It ensured captive eyeballs among influential Chinese, who were only just beginning to outstretch their fledgling ties with the world”, explains CEO, Gildo Zegna.
Twenty eventful years on and today, Zegna counts more than 82 points of sale in 37 cities across Greater China. It is this successful episode in it’s 100-year history that the heirs, employees and a motley crew of journalists have come to celebrate in China’s capital city. This Chinese anniversary recounts an unabashed narrative of precision marketing and passion; one that contours Zegna’s corporate philosophy.