Far from it being just a marketing gimmick, Zegna's What Makes A Man campaign—which started in 2019—has been part of an important evolving conversation. The debut began with a simple pointed question: What makes a man? It was a normalising of examining a man's role in today's context and an initiative to dispel notions of toxic masculinity by a brand that's been clothing men for 110 years at the time.
From personal testimonies by noted figures (and for lack of a better term, traditionally masculine personas) like Nicholas Tse and Oscar winner Mahershala Ali, the campaign switched gears with mother-and-son duo Isabelle Adjani and Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis. It became a question of 'What makes my man?', a more reflective angle based on personal relationships for spring/summer 2021.
The next development coincides with Zegna's autumn/winter 2021 collection. Conceived during the world's latest seismic pandemic shift, the collection marked the beginning for artistic director Alessandro Sartori to reconfigure Zegna's position on contemporary style. The presented collection was almost entirely devoid of strict traditional menswear codes. Owing to new, unexpected changes in lifestyles, Sartori proposed effortless stylings that were designed to transition seamlessly from the indoors to the outdoors.
Rebranded as (Reset) What Makes A Man, it still inherently carries the same message right from the very beginning of its inception. Just like the clothes, there's versatility in what being a modern man entails—hybrid garments re-tailored for one whose realities are constantly intertwining, with no clear separation.
(Reset) What Makes A Man is fronted by five faces representing a global community: two models, a dancer, a fashion buyer and a photographer—one of them a female. While there was precedent with Adjani being part of the spring/summer 2021 campaign, the inclusion of model Maggie Maurer this time feels more impactful, especially with the autumn/winter 2021 collection being the first time that Sartori featured female models in the line-up.
"Is it how we fit in? Or how we choose to stand out?" she's heard saying in the campaign's video. The word man, in the autumn/winter 2021 context, feels broader; Zegna is perhaps addressing mankind at large, regardless of gender. The idea of reconciling with the past, rethinking the present and then reconsider what's next is a marked switch in Zegna's What Makes A Man campaign. And certainly one that relates to any one individual.
Striking off its first name and going just by ‘Zegna'—what the brand has been commonly referred to offhand—is perfectly in line with (Reset) What Makes A Man. The past stays in the past, and it's time to move forward with a relatively clean slate while taking steps for a future that's constantly evolving. Because change is a constant after all.