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  • Anton Brisinger

Oasi Zegna showcases the future of cashmere

The aesthetic stretches from Anthony Kiedis worthy drip, to Logan Roy heavy-lies-the-crown cool

Three years ago the earth stood still. Going out became staying in; office work became home work; and the suit became sweatpants. It was foundational shift in who we were, and how we dress.

This was a key moment in the century-old history of the Italian luxury house Ermenegildo Zegna. With its globe-spanning reputation built on elevated tailoring, when the doors to the outside were bolted shut, the need for a new suit —or wearing one at all—fizzled out. Almost overnight people’s requirements of their wardrobe shifted to comfort, to a sense of safety.

A longtime hallmarks of Zegna’s identity is that it is finely attuned into the needs of its customers. So as the world collectively underwent a moment of introspection, so did Zegna’s much-celebrated designer and creative director, Alessandro Sartori. What did luxury tailoring look like in the world of laid-back fashion?

“My favourite pieces to design are coats, jackets, tops, and shoes, but COVID changed all that,” Alessandro Sartori tells Esquire Middle East. “So I had to put a relaxed spin on our classics. Just because you’re home, doesn’t mean you don’t need to look good.”

Alessandro Sartori, creative director, Zegna

He is draped in magnetic shades of black, sitting on the edge of his chair in a private suite in Singapore’s landmark Fullerton Hotel. He has gathered a who’s who of designers and celebrities to celebrate Zegna’s upcoming Oasi Cashmere x The Elder Statesman Fall-Winter 2023 collection, a tour which began in Chengdu, then Los Angeles. Later that evening, the collection will be introduced on the hotel’s rooftop, coinciding with the Formula One Grand Prix (the fact that Sartori’s team, Ferrari, ends up winning the race almost makes you wonder if it had been scripted).

Though generic sweat-suits can be viewed as aggressively sedentary —one would be pressed to find an office outside of Silicon Valley (or any overzealous tech startups) that advocates for grey sweatpants and a hoodie— the Oasi Cashmere x The Elder Statesman collab collection is anything but. A seasoned architect of the male uniform, the Italian designer has long been interested in leisurely attire, and the lockdown allowed for his own creative expansion. “We are traveling and meeting people again, and I wanted to create a cool but relaxed wardrobe, giving you the ability to combine the pieces in different ways to make you ready for every occasion.”

The new collection, though understated, does not crumble under the weight of WFH-chic, and is designed to be as versatile as it is comfortable.

When the collection was first announced, a few eyebrows were raised. Not in terms of the aesthetics or quality, but simply because Sartori is not known to be an avid collaborator with other brands. During his six years at the creative helm of Zegna, they have only done three. But he tells me the reason for this new partnership with The Elder Statesman is part of the brand’s commitment to full traceability by 2024, as they are determined to lead the way to a world devoid of unnecessary waste.

“We buy our cashmere from select farmers, and then we wash, cut, spin, weave, and make everything internally, ensuring that you can trace everything back to the source,” he says.

The final result takes Sartori’s masculine, Italian spirit and injects it with the effervescent chill of The Elder Statesman’s California soul. Boasting a creative blend of colours and ideas, the aesthetic stretches from an Anthony Kiedis worthy drip, to a Logan Roy heavy-lies-the-crown cool. The intricate detail is apparent in every thread, every zipper, every button, all of which are designed to elicit one thing in the wearer: emotion.

“Good clothes are not meant to change you, they are meant to elevate you,” Sartori says. “And if mine do that, then I have done a good job.”

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