From sheep to shop, the stan­dard for fine fab­rics is set by Lan­i­fi­cio Zegna’s metic­u­lous care and at­ten­tion, writes Aussy Apor­tadera

Philippine Tatler Traveller - - Stylebook -

Age-old tra­di­tions, crafts­man­ship, and tech­nol­ogy com­bine to pro­duce Lan­i­fi­cio Zegna's finest fab­rics

L ux­ury stems from ne­ces­sity, el­e­vat­ing even the hum­blest acts and ob­jects. Such is the case of wool—the nat­u­ral coat of com­mon live­stock: sheep, goat, llama, and al­paca, among them—and its trans­for­ma­tion from one of the old­est fab­rics of pro­tec­tion for man into the com­pany of the finest cloths in the fash­ion and tex­tile in­dus­try to­day.

From the vi­sion of a young Ermenegild­o Zegna, the quaint town­ship of Tivero, Italy has be­come the cen­tre of this trade. As early as the 1900s, the Ital­ian fab­ric man­u­fac­turer had recog­nised the abun­dance of wool in his home­town, fore­see­ing the value of es­tab­lish­ing the Lan­i­fi­cio Ermenegild­o Zegna (Zegna Wool Mill) in the moun­tain­ous re­gion near the city of Biella.

The tra­di­tion of wool in Tivero pre­dates Lan­i­fi­cio Zegna’s her­itage by six cen­turies. The men and women whose com­mit­ment and pas­sion for the craft have passed their knowl­edge down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion are key to the mill’s in­trin­sic val­ues. These in­clude ex­act­ing care and fas­tid­i­ous at­ten­tion to de­tail, so much so that they strive to cor­rect ev­ery im­per­fec­tion by hand; and ev­ery chal­lenge set by the fi­bre has been over­come through rig­or­ous re­search and in­ven­tive in­no­va­tion through the years. Even as the mill it­self has be­gun to source from out­side of Tivero—as in the plen­i­tude of wool in Aus­tralia where Ermenegild­o Zegna had ac­quired a ma­jor­ity stake in the su­perfine wool farm Achill in New South Wales—the com­bi­na­tion of avant-garde tech­nol­ogy paired with cen­turies-old ar­ti­sanal meth­ods re­tains Lan­i­fi­cio Zegna’s sig­na­ture crafts­man­ship.

Not only did the Tivero com­mu­nity prac­tice the craft of wool, they were in close prox­im­ity to the rich soft wa­ter of the sur­round­ing springs. At an alti­tude of 900 me­tres above sea level, the wa­ters that run through Lan­i­fi­cio Zegna are the light­est in all of Italy, if not the en­tire Europe. This nat­u­ral char­ac­ter­is­tic leaves the fab­ric un­spoilt from

the pro­cesses of wash­ing, comb­ing, dye­ing, and weav­ing; pre­serv­ing a qual­ity that many have tried to repli­cate in wool milling, but have been un­able to at­tain.

Lan­i­fi­cio Zegna stands among the most sought-af­ter sup­pli­ers of fine fab­ric in the world, bear­ing a grade of qual­ity syn­ony­mous to its name. Af­ter all is said and done about the gen­eros­ity of Mother Na­ture and the long-stand­ing re­la­tion­ship of the mill with the en­vi­ron­ment, Zegna de­serves the ac­co­lades of its hard work and de­mand­ing process.

The in­no­va­tions of the Tro­feo light­weight wool fab­rics, the creasere­sis­tant High Per­for­mance cloth, up to the rev­o­lu­tion­ary Cool Ef­fect sum­mer wools are demon­stra­tions of the Zegna prom­ise of vi­sion­ary tex­tile. Hav­ing al­ready planned the colours, pat­terns, styles, and tech­ni­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics of the fab­ric by the cre­ative team, Zegna is all the more guided in their se­lec­tion of raw ma­te­ri­als. Par­tic­u­lar in­tent on fine­ness, qual­ity, and strength come into play when wool is auc­tioned off to the mill. It is there­after washed and combed to rid it of nat­u­ral grease and veg­etable im­pu­ri­ties be­fore dye­ing—yet an­other step that is the re­sult of care­fully stud­ied com­bi­na­tions. While the best tech­nol­ogy is avail­able to Lan­i­fi­cio Zegna, the most skilled and dis­ci­plined op­er­a­tors take charge of ex­e­cut­ing the rich, so­phis­ti­cated Zegna tones through fi­bre dye­ing, or mélange.

Crafts­man­ship from in­ti­mately han­dling the wool is not lost in this mod­ern and gi­gan­tic en­deav­our. In fact, it is still the lifeblood of Zegna fab­ric man­u­fac­tur­ing. From spin­ning and con­ing the dif­fer­ent types of yarn to warp­ing them into cloth, man­ual dex­ter­ity re­mains piv­otal in the mill. Even as state-of-the-art looms aid the weav­ing process—es­pe­cially for fine silks and yarn that are so del­i­cate they are al­most in­vis­i­ble to the naked eye— tra­di­tional machines and the ar­ti­sans’ in­stinc­tive han­dling of the ma­te­rial are what make the fi­nal prod­uct: the high­est qual­ity wool and tex­tiles.

Sealed with the sig­na­ture of Ermenegild­o Zegna, the her­itage of the cloth bears the mark of un­ri­valled crafts­man­ship and lux­ury—one that pays tribute to the ori­gins of its raw ma­te­rial, and al­ters the state of com­mon wool into the finest of fab­ric.

FROM TOP Achill farm land­scape; yarn from the Zegna wool mill

Sheep from the Achill Farm

Zegna blazer Wool ware­house

CLOCK­WISE E For­mu­las for fi­bre blends; fine-tun­ing un­ing the de­tails

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