It is galling, most readers will agree, to take a much cherished suit to a high-street dry cleaning outlet and hand over hard currency to have its fabric’s natural oils ravaged by perchloroethylene: equivalent, no less, to paying a DNA-cloned, pre-opposable-thumbs Homo erectus equipped with sharpened stick to service a mechanical timepiece inherited from a beloved relative. It’s also a nuisance that a common ritual, on arriving at a hotel, has become hanging whatever suits you’ve bought with you close to a steaming hot shower to remove all the suitcase-inflicted wrinkles.
So the world of menswear emitted a collective cheer of relief and joy when Z Zegna announced the imminent release of its Techmerino Wash & Go collection, a selection of garments that are available at therake.com. For those late to the party, we’re talking here about machine washable — yes, machine washable — suits that won’t require ironing once they’ve dried. The destructiveness of dry cleaning and the laboriousness of pressing made redundant in one stroke of ingenuity. And not only are these garments impervious to wool fibre’s usual molecular mischief and the detrimental effects of machine washing, they come with the elegant drape, eye-catching silhouette and material tactility, and unparalleled stylishness, functionality, practicality, versatility and elegance we’ve come to expect from the Trivero-based house.
The story of how this game-changing innovation came about begins before Zegna’s Artistic Director, Alessandro Sartori, returned to the family-run luxury giant in early 2016, following his spell at Berluti. “When I re-joined the company there was this beautiful project underway called Techmerino,” he tells The Rake. “It’s activewear but with a tailoring influence. Talking to the technicians, the people working around the product, we immediately felt there was such a big possibility to apply it to a much broader lifestyle. That’s why we decided to expand the concept. We noticed that these qualities could be so disruptive in the whole pure-wool world — a place in which you must take so much care over how you wash garments, how you sew them.”
To say Sartori was excited by this prospect is an understatement: he sensed, in a manner that very few would, that he was not just on the cusp of an impressive sartorial innovation but looking at the chance to take tailoring itself along a different tangent. “I’ve always had a huge love of tailoring that takes on new, modern and fresh directions,” he explains. “One example of this is taking tailoring fabrics into the sportswear, or sports-inspired, model; another is the opposite of that — taking ideas that have come in from the worlds of sportswear and casualwear into the realm of tailoring. It’s about creating new combinations, new styling compositions, and a lot of new possibilities.”