Paul Surridge

our customer is fashion aware, but he isn’t a fashionista. He sees clothing as an investment. Paul Surridge

Having been creative director of Z Zegna for almost two years, English-born Paul Surridge has managed to carve out his own niche at the Italian menswear label. “It has been a relay race where you sprint as fast as possible for the team,” says the 38-year-old Surridge, whose résumé also includes stints at Calvin Klein, Burberry, and Jil Sander. “You always have to be bringing something new and never leaving anything behind.”

In contrast to the venerable Ermenegildo Zegna flagship brand, the younger, more metropolitan Z Zegna has, according to Surridge, sought to “create clothing for a man living in a city environment who doesn’t want to dress like his dad.” In March, Z Zegna opened its first stand-alone store in North America, in Los Angeles’s Beverly Center. Echoing Surridge’s vision of the brand, the store is all about clean lines and eased modernity. “Our customer is fashion aware, but he isn’t a fashionista,” he explains. “He sees clothing as an investment, not as his sole priority.”

With Z Zegna’s Autumn-Winter 2013 collection, titled “The Urban Wanderer Meets the Great Outdoors,” Surridge says that he wanted to convey “a powerful source of heritage in the scramble of today,” while also “heightening the mood by using color,” employing a morose Caravaggio-inspired palette of varying shades of brown, ebony, and ash grays, punctuated with cadmium red. Created with the nomadic spirit of the contemporary urban man in mind, the collection marries heritage craft with contemporary technology. Utilizing layered textures on heat-bonded, felted wools, degradé effects, and shearling-mimicking wool and silk blends, the rustic-rooted suits, trenches, and bombers read uncannily futuristic. “It’s not just about technical fabrics—it’s about technology,” Surridge says. “The idea that fabric can change the way it appears through technical behavior is what’s most interesting to me.”

To read about Paul Surridge’s 10 favorite things, click here.