Fear Of God Exclusively For Ermenegildo Zegna: The Story Behind The Collaboration

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Fear Of God Exclusively For Ermenegildo Zegna: The Story Behind The Collaboration

Words by Ms Molly Isabella Smith | Photography by Mr Marc Hibbert | Styling by Mr Olie Arnold

1 October 2020

The first rule of a successful collaboration? Opposites attract. Louis Vuitton X Supreme. Disney X Gucci. That time Vetements sent a Juicy Couture tracksuit down the runway. We could go on. So when Fear of God, the hoodie-centric LA brand – introduced to the masses by ardent fans such as Messrs Justin Bieber and Kanye West – and Ermenegildo Zegna, a century-plus-old maker of elevated fabrics and traditional tailoring, announced they were teaming up, the result was guaranteed to cause a stir.

Another factor that made the partnership especially idiosyncratic was the designers’ refusal to conform to industry standards. “It’s not that the collaboration was based on a marketing brief to a specific budget,” Ermenegildo Zegna artistic director Mr Alessandro Sartori tells MR PORTER. “It was very organic. We were not driven by a merchandising approach, we were driven by a point of view.”

And, as it turns out, they’re not at odds after all. Though Fear of God boss Mr Jerry Lorenzo and Mr Sartori have very different approaches to their collections – what might once have been arbitrarily filed under contemporary vs classic – at the heart of what they both do is a commitment to quality and craft. One might sell sweats and the other suits, but what they’re really engaged in is an ongoing dialogue about how we go about defining luxury fashion today. The outcome? A truly harmonious hybrid line that provides the fullest answer to that question yet.

To mark the FEAROFGODZEGNA collection’s launch on MR PORTER, we caught up with the duo to discuss their thoughts on everything from the fundamental importance of fabric to coming up with a blueprint for the modern man’s wardrobe.

Mr Jerry Lorenzo: We found that there were more similarities than there were differences… Luxury is evolving. So is the point of view of the world. I think the world is more interconnected today than it was even 10 or 20 years ago. And so, what may seem like worlds apart, we’re actually pretty close.

Mr Alessandro Sartori: The way Jerry always treated his collections was very chic and sophisticated, from materials to colours and from shapes to the usage of details. So, we’re different garments, yes, but the approach was similar. That’s why it wasn’t difficult to work together.

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Mr Lorenzo: I’m a self-taught designer, so the way that I’ve approached clothing has been super-unorthodox. To be able to sit with Alessandro and his team of experts, I can’t begin to list how much I was able to take away… It was just like going to school for me, so it was really tremendous experience.

Mr Sartori: I thought I would learn from [Jerry’s] mindset, which I did of course. But I learnt a lot from his approach and his different way of working and interacting… He’s ready when he’s ready, and the market is able to wait for him. You [begin to] understand that there are many other possibilities; this [collaboration] is one of the possibilities.

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Mr Sartori: I have a lot of connection with LA, because I love the energy. Besides Milan and Paris, where I’ve lived, it’s the city I’ve been to the most. It has to do with the movie industry, it has to do with the feel, with the style, with the people I have met, and so on and on.

Mr Lorenzo: I have the same kind of emotional connection to Italy as well. I love the food, I love the pace, I love the culture – Italy very much feels like home for me. What appeared to be worlds apart when Alessandro and I first met, it seemed as if we grew up in the same city almost.

Mr Lorenzo: I’ve always been enamoured by touch and feel and drape and how fabrics react. With Zegna’s history, starting out as a fabrics company, that DNA is so heavily inside the house. Everything that is touched or played with there is at the highest level. It doesn’t require any tricks with washing or garment-dyeing that I need to do to elevate the fabrics… Being able to play with those fabrics and materials was really a blessing for me.

Mr Sartori: Because we have our own mills, we can really weave and create what we like. The love for fabrics is very well translated into real product. We design from the fabric, not only from the garment. And this is an important aspect.

Mr Lorenzo: I wouldn’t say the collection is oversized; I’d say it’s generous, it’s effortless, it’s relaxed, it’s comfortable, but it’s highly considered and highly contemplated. It’s giving room in the right places to give the right emotion. But it’s definitely not an oversized fit that looks sloppy. I think “generous” is a word that Alessandro has used in the past and I’ve taken on in my vocabulary.

Mr Sartori: “Generous” is the right word. This generous fit creates, with its shoulders and construction, a new hybrid product, which is not the classic product we know. We have jackets that are, yes, part of a suit, but also independent sports coats that are almost sportswear or outerwear pieces [and] easily worn with different pants and underpinnings.

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FEAROFGODZEGNA Texan Alligator Print Chelsea Boots Coming soon

Mr Lorenzo: He just needs to be able to have the freedom to move effortlessly about his day. He’s got to be appropriate for all occasions. And the modern man has a schedule that is different to the rigid schedule of the past… We’re trying to create a wardrobe that allows for this guy to move in and out of different circumstances.

Mr Sartori: We like the feeling of building pieces which are stable in your wardrobe. This collaboration is about that. There are a lot of pieces that are very iconic.

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Mr Sartori: I like working with Jerry and we have a lot of ideas.

Mr Lorenzo: I hope to continue this. It’ll be at our pace and not the industry pushing us to move outside our conviction. My relationship with Alessandro is a long-term one and, because we’re connected in that way, it gives us the freedom to approach this in the most honest and authentic way. Definitely, at least a part two. We’ll see how it goes.

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