There was a four-color ad in the paper last week that really got my attention. For the wrong reason.
The ad was for Ermenegildo Zegna. It was a cropped photo of a man beautifully dressed in a grey suit, sitting on a white block. His briefcase was expertly designed, and his elegant loafers matched.
The tagline in the ad was, "Passion for Details". So what was my problem? The dude wasn't wearing any socks.
Yes, that got my attention. I admired the suit, craved the briefcase, and I even considered the shoes. But no socks? Why?
To me, it would be hard to take a businessperson seriously if he forgot to put on his socks. Even less if he didn't wear them on purpose. It seems like this ad could turn off a lot of customers who would say "Obviously this store is not for me."
I decided to call the Zegna office. The marketing person I spoke to on the phone was very helpful. He explained that whenever they run an ad in the Wall Street Journal, they try to "push the envelope". I asked if a lot of businessmen wear suits without socks. He said "Not in the United States." I asked him where they were likely to do this. He said in Europe.
Men's fashions have sure come a long way. The suits have looked the same for decades, and so fundamentally have the shirts and shoes. We've been throwing away or ties for a few years, and now we can start throwing away our socks.
Why don't we really push Zegna's envelope and tatoo our ankles?