Amid the under-construction halls of the historical Hôtel de Coulanges in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, a new chapter in fashion history unravelled last night. Like in one of those Marvel superhero sagas, two titans from seemingly opposite sides of the spectrum of the industry came together to beat the system and pave a whole new way for the future. Ermenegildo Zegna’s Alessandro Sartori and Fear of God’s Jerry Lorenzo teamed up on a collaboration that’s more than just that – it’s a creation of a unique discourse by merging their individual visions into a new, singular one. “The purpose was not to be 50/ 50 but to be 100% of both of us,” said Lorenzo on the morning of their joint vision premiering to the world as part of Paris Fashion Week.
Fear of God x Ermenegildo Zegna is a dialogue of the heavily developed narratives the two brands have been working on individually. Without any academic training, Lorenzo launched FOG in 2012 as a commercial outpost of his creative efforts as part of the streetwear emergence on the West Coast of USA. At the same time, Sartori departed from his role at Z Zegna to work at Berluti, before finally heading back in a completely new role of artistic director across all of the Ermenegildo Zegna brands in 2016. Ever since then, the Italian designer slowly shifted the focus of one of the biggest menswear brands in the world from strict tailoring into a direction in-tune with the modern times, including trainers, sportswear and an all-round more comfort-heavy approach to tailoring.
“I’ve always know about Zegna and always kind of aspired to the brand, it always served as a signal of excellence and honesty and craftsmanship (…) Beyond the aesthetics the value spoke more to what Fear of God stands for,” says Lorenzo. For Sartori however, it was the unique visual language of Lorenzo’s brand that first stood out, as it effortlessly translated the high levels of luxury that were held within the clothes. And then, around two years ago, the duo finally met through a mutual friend. “[We started working together] the next day,” the founder of FOG remembers those early beginnings of a partnership, thinking of how it “could provide the solutions for the market that we feel we are missing.”
Of course, with two big brands also come some differences in the process. While Lorenzo is self-taught, Sartori comes from a line of tailors, having grown up and learned about the craft thanks to his mother’s tailored atelier from an early age. “I was just very humbled by Alessandro’s patience and how I expressed my point of view and what I wanted to expose. I would do that through a very non-traditional way, so it takes a lot of patience to first understand someone that you’re working alongside and then having the patience to get to a place where you can see things the way that they see things,” Lorenzo reveals, before Sartori follows up. “We have different backgrounds but we have the common vision for the same level of refinement and sophistication and this is through the work process, all the different phases of the design process, and styling-wise too.”
So when it came to the collection itself, the harmony of contrast came through to represent their new language by introducing parts of their separate vernaculars but also a fresh set of codes that couldn’t be traced to neither Zegna nor FOG. Sleek tailoring without lapels and boxy shirting with military pockets mix in a slight nod to martial arts, especially when matched with loose-fitting pleated trousers and a neutral colour scheme which relies on the timeless qualities of black, grey, white, beige and navy. While there’s plenty of philosophy behind the scenes, the final outcome is as easy to understand as it is easy to introduce in anyone’s wardrobe. And it truly is anyone – in addition to reaching both of their audiences, the two brands want to introduce Zegna x FOG to a whole new group of people. That’s why there’s also a “one size fits all” concept that weaves throughout the collection, transforming luxurious textiles such as soft jerseys, cashmeres and lightweight suedes into new suggestions of absolute comfort.
The collection, developed thanks to a strategic partnership with Tomorrow Consulting, will launch in September 2020, via both of the brand’s retail outlets as well as a selection of temporary spaces dedicated strictly to this joint venture, questioning the separation of streetwear and luxury in today’s world. Does it even exist anymore? Lorenzo quickly replies: “hopefully what this does is start to break down the walls of separation between houses and other brands that in the end are really just trying to provide again the best solutions, the most considered solutions for today’s man.”
by Dino Bonacic
The Ermenegildo Zegna x Fear of God collection will be available to shop from September 2020.