Luxury Suit Maker's China Sales Now Higher Than US

The well-made Italian suit found its way onto the shoulders of more and more affluent Chinese men this year, as China topped the US in sales from luxury suit maker Ermenegildo Zegna Group.

A made-to-measure Zegna suit costs $4,000 on average and can run as high as $40,000, while a ready-to-wear one averages about $2,000.

Zegna manufactures the fine woolen fabrics for its suits and buys mohair from South Africa, merino wool from Australia and cashmere from goats in Mongolia to produce them.

“We were the first luxury brand to move to China in 1991,” company CEO Ermenegildo Zegna told CNBC Monday. “It became the largest market this year before the United States. So those resources invested in a tough year brought an incredible payback that was able to generate new investment in another part of the world."

The privately held luxury brand, which rang up $1 billion in sales last year, is sold in 550 stores in 86 countries. Zegna said the company has no plans to go public.

“In the last quarter of '08, I had two goals: One was to make it through and come out stronger from the crisis; number two was to be able to have cash left after the crisis,” he added. “I’m very proud that I was able to do both. And now we have the means to attack the market.”