What makes a man? Is there an answer to such a question? Not a single one, for sure, but rather many. The world we live in is liquid. The notion of masculinity as something steely and univocal, staid and static no longer works – if it ever did.

Masculinity is a state of mind, not a set of given rules. Men have come to terms with their inner weaknesses and strengths, and are willing to take risks in order to fully embrace what it takes to be a man today, regardless of traditional notions. Men have come to accept that fragility and failure can ignite betterment, just like the quest for success does, because it is the movement of the mind and the engagement of the soul that count. Men have learned that embracing love as a positive force is a winning decision, that exploring imagination is an enriching voyage of self-discovery and that dreams and playfulness are the qualities of grown-up adults, because keeping the inner child alive makes a man just as much as facing responsibilities with determination does.

Masculinity is a plural act today. One that can take on different meanings and include many qualities, both expected and unexpected: courtesy, humility, courage, patience, vulnerability, wisdom, eccentricity. What makes a man is the dignity and openness to accept and embrace the contradictions in life, and evolve day by day, being truthful to oneself yet endlessly changing perspective and attitudes.

A purveyor of timelessly modern clothing to generations of men over the last 110 years, Zegna has always adopted an evolutive mindset. The brand is now engaging in an open conversation around what makes a man today, and it does so fluidly: imposing no answers or bold statements, but rather posing more questions. The Zegna way of moving the masculine conversation forward is through a new brand campaign – a platform for discussion, and perhaps also for considered provocation.

It takes courage for men to accept that what makes them men today is not what made men of their fathers. It takes courage to accept that what makes them men today is the same spirit and the same dignity of their fathers, expressed in different ways. Accordingly, it takes courage for a brand rooted in tailoring to embrace an idea of masculinity that is fluid, sensitive, unequivocal. And after all, is there a more “masculine” quality than courage? The courage to shatter conventions, but also the courage to embrace risks, accepting that failure might ensue.

Mahershala Ali serves as the face of the campaign. A versatile actor who has depicted and embodied many shades of masculinity, he is naturally suited to represent the idea of what a man is today, and the qualities that make him. He brings to it his own gravitas and lightness of spirt, his inner richness and wit.

The campaign poses love, failure, fight, risk, dreaming, playfulness, movement and freedom as qualities that make a man today, but a lot can be added. The ultimate scope, in fact, is to open a door, letting ideas unfold and welcoming the shape they will take. Meaningful portraits are juxtaposed with white pages, scribbled with handwritten notes that convey the sense of constant questioning. Questions are enlightening, after all – not necessarily the answers.

Openness makes a man. A will to accept change as the force that shapes life. The ultimate message is one of kindness as a supreme form of strength.

Join the conversation: #whatmakesaman

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