BUSINESS OF FASHION: GUCCI’S NEW DESIGN CHIEF IS A PROMISING UNKNOWN
Last Wednesday, Kering SA officially announced that it was passing the torch of Gucci‘s Creative Director to 42-year-old Alessandro Michele after star designer Frida Giannini’s early exit this month. The appointment heralds a new phase in Gucci’s brand strategy to move the Italian label up market focusing on subtle luxury leather goods and accessories: a plan started by Giannini’s partner and former Gucci CEO Patrizio di Marco. Michele has been promoted to Creative Director from running Gucci’s accessories line, although he s a virtual unknown in the industry, Kering is banking on his expertise to inject fresh vigor into the label’s sartorial lineup and lift flagging sales.
“What Gucci needs is to inject the brand with new ideas and create a new buzz around it,” said Lucas Solca, an analyst with Exane BNP Paribas in London, to the The New York Times. “Handbags and leather goods are going to be very important to bring novelty to the market and to give consumers new reasons to come back to Gucci stores.”
Leather goods comprised 60 percent of Gucci’s 2013 fiscal year profits.
Kering says Michele will be given all creative control of Gucci collections and brand image moving forward. Major luxury markets, such as China, have turned away from the overt, flashy branding of the past decade in favor of elegant designer goods that are both subtle and class-conscious.
Michele’s last-minute redesigns for Gucci’s Fall 2015 menswear collection were well-received last week in Milan as a refreshing departure from Giannini’s aesthetic, signaling a new target market of younger, hipper luxury consumers.
Image via InDigital, Thumbnail via Ronan Gallagher/Gucci