The Achill farm in Australia's New South Wales might not be where you'd expect to find a luxury brand, but this 2,500-hectare property is exactly where Ermenegildo Zegna wanted to be.
In 2014, the luxury fashion house bought a 60-percent stake in this family-run farm. For the company's chairman, third-generation member Paolo, it was a good opportunity to work closely with wool growers to develop the right fibers for its products.
Convincing farmer Charlie Coventry and his family to sell them a stake was a challenge, but in the end, both sides did find common ground in being family businesses.
"We certainly have a sense of family, commitment, seriousness, of how well you can do your job — whatever your job is. I think there are a lot of commonalities between us," Paolo said.
For Ermenegildo Zegna, the purchase completes the cycle of full vertical integration, widely referred to internally as a business that goes from sheep to shop. In today's digital age, however, that endpoint is also very much on the screen, and so it's important to connect to a new generation of digital-savvy customers.
"Digital makes a genuine company brand like I us even more real. It just speed up the process and I think I see this as an opportunity," said Paolo's cousin Gildo, who is the company's CEO.