Firstly, I think you are confused about two things: a designer and a manufacturer. Â A designer is one who works in a 'drawing room' drafting out new designs according to his own whims and 'inspirations'. Â A manufacturer is one who produces according to a blueprint drawn by someone else. Â They are two entirely different businesses, similar to the writer-publisher relationship --- a writer doesn't print his own books and a publisher doesn't write. Â Zegna is a very big company which started out as a fabric merchant and later turned manufacturer. Â They also have their own design department which makes clothes in their own factories --- thus the many clothing lines similar to a regular Milanese designer. Â However, not all Zegna-labelled items are made by Zegna, one example being their shoes. Other manufacturers, from the top of my head, are Canali, Cantarelli, Chestshire Clothing, Corneliani, Hickey Freeman, Saint Andrews, Vestimenta, just to name a few that are well-known. Â They all have their own design departments, thus you see clothings under their own labels; but their main business is still manufacturing. Â There are various smaller manufacturers who do not have a large design department, thus less well known. Â Having your own design department helps promote your image and your own products. Designers like Armani, Gucci, and a million others are merely designers who have no capacity of producing their own drawings. Â Most designer items are made by Zegna, which have the quality level of their regular Zegna line, with the exception of Gucci's custom, which are partially made at the Zegna Napoli workshop; thus the you'd notice the beautiful custom double-breasted suit Domenico (Gucci's CEO) was wearing in the American Express advertisement --- now you wouldn't think this CEO would just wear a regular Gucci. Â (Regular Gucci suits are still made by regular Zegna.) Â To be honest --- hope I wouldn't offend Gucci fans here --- even Gucci leather goods are made from outside sources, with the final Gucci label sewn in Italy so as to justify the 'Made In Italy' label. Â If you know what this outside source is, none of you would want to spend another dime at Gucci. Â This would also explain why even Gucci shoes do not last. For higher end production one turns to Cantarelli (Huntsman), Castangia (Battistoni), Saint Andrews (Ascot Chang), or Chestshire Clothing (Turnbull & Asser). Â All of them from Huntsman to Ascot Chang will only produces pieces from their own workshop if it is a custom order. Â Luciano Barbera is now made in a Neapolitan workshop --- guess who? Corneliani and Hickey Freeman would fare somewhere in between. Â The same theory goes with shirts --- Brioni's shirts from Burini, where Oxxford actually collects shirts from three different factories (and one of them right under our nose at Staten Island, NY). Â And the same goes with shoes: Mantellassi makes for Borrelli, and soon Ferragamo will make for Zegna, Edward Green makes for Ralph Lauren, or Silvano Lattanzi makes for Brioni. Â It is quite easy to spot Lattanzi's: look inside your shoes and you will find a 3-colour thread at the joint of the leather lining (goat skin, acutally) and the ankle suede lining, sewn from the top to the bottom --- and being a true Italian, guess what the 3 colours are. Having realised this fact, the bigger problem is to see how the manufacturers adjust to the 'needs' of the designers. Â While you are looking at an Armani Collezione suit, I doubt if you could tell if it's a Zegna. Â Shirts and shoes are easier, as the details are more obvious and variations few. As a well-informed shopper, you should always know who does what kind of business. Â For example, buying a Louis Vuitton suit is quite silly --- actually, I would even consider a Louis Vuitton bag a silly purchase (unless you like the design, but that's something else). Â Louis Vuitton makes trunks. Â I wouldn't visit them for anything else. Â If you want a good briefcase (or other kinds of leather goods), go to Hermes in France or Cellerini in Florence. Â Unless your argument is one of design and aesthetic, then you could pretty much shop anywhere from K-Mart to Prada. The making of leather goods tells more or less the same story, with the exception of, say, Louis Vuitton or Hermes, who, in the case of Hermes, even owns a leather tannery (at Choisy). Â But then we will be getting into the topic of raw materials: fabrics, leather, etc.. Â Luciano Barbera uses fabrics from his father's mill and makes his ready-made suits in Naples; Oxxford will be using some Holland & Sherry for their suits made in Chicago; Hugo Boss orders fabric from Loro Piana and has their suits made by some small (and not very good) Italian manufacturer; Hermes picked tribesmen from Niger to make their silver belt buckle which will later be finished in their Lyon workshop; ... ... ... It is, after all, a very small world.