MILAN, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Italian luxury group Ermenegildo Zegna has hired former Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) designer Stefano Pilati as creative head of its menswear shows and womenswear brand in a move aimed at infusing fresh appeal into the century-old fashion house.
Pilati, instrumental in the repositioning of PPR's YSL where he worked for seven years, will join Zegna from Jan. 1, 2013, the company said on Tuesday.
"We have been thinking about the brand's role in fashion for some time. By appointing Stefano, we will be able to combine our tradition in tailoring and our leadership in innovative materials with a new vision for men's fashion," Chief Executive Ermenegildo Zegna said in a statement.
Under Pilati's creative designs, particularly in high-margin leather goods, YSL returned to profitability in 2008.
Pilati left YSL in February and was replaced by French designer Hedi Slimane, former creative head at Christian Dior menswear.
Founded in 1910 in the Italian Biella Alps, the company is run by the fourth generation of the Zegna family.
The group, whose tailored suits and suede jackets have been worn by movie stars such as Tom Cruise, reported a 91.5 percent profit rise to 115.1 million euros in 2011 on the back of record sales of 1.13 billion euros ($1.42 billion).
Zegna said in April the group was confident about 2012 growth after retail sales in the first three months rose around 11 percent at constant exchange rates.
Luxury houses are resilient to economic downturns but are under pressure to catch up with fast-changing consumers moods, especially in Asia where young shoppers dictate trends.
Zegna exports 90 percent of its products, especially to Asia. It also aims to boost its presence in the womenswear business by making Pilati head of its Agnona brand.
The luxury industry is expected to grow 7-9 percent this year after enjoying double-digit growth following the 2009 recession.
The 180-billion-euro menswear market, which makes up 40 percent of the global market, is expected to grow at about 14 percent a year, nearly double the 8 percent growth rate of luxury womenswear, according to Bain & Co. ($1 = 0.7947 euros) (Reporting by Antonella Ciancio; editing by James Jukwey)