Gucci kicked off Milan Fashion Week on Friday with a range of baggy and androgynous men’s styles, moving forward with its latest collection as the industry waits for owner Kering to appoint a new designer for the brand. French luxury group Kering is facing pressure to quickly find a replacement following the abrupt departure in November of Alessandro Michele, the flamboyant designer who was a favorite of Harry Styles and Lady Gaga, and revive the growth of sales of its largest brand, which accounted for two-thirds of turnover. profits in 2021.
The question of who will lead the creative direction of Gucci hung over the megabrand’s first men’s show in Italy’s fashion capital in three years. The events run through January 17 and attract an audience of major retail buyers who evaluate styles that could be future best sellers. There were echoes of Michele’s quirky and fluid styles during Gucci’s runway presentation on Friday.
Models circled a darkened room to the rumbling music of live band Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, parading oversized suit coats with wide lapels and wide pleated trousers in pale beige and pastel hues, with fresh take on classics of the house, as well as reminders of Michele’s tenure, including fur slippers adorned with horse bits. “A palette cleanser of the collections we’ve seen over the past few seasons,” said Simon Longland, head of menswear and womenswear at London department store Harrods.
He said the show offered a “fresh take” on house styles, with a range of fabrics and jacket shapes that would likely appeal to fans of his iconic looks as well as new customers. The show notes, which buyers scrutinize for signs of the label’s next steps, referenced improvisation and collaboration.
“As the free impulses of individual minds intertwine, collective expressions are crafted,” the brand’s notes read. Glittering silver pants and quilted moto boots added flamboyant touches to neutral-colored looks, which were swooned by celebrities among the audience, including K-pop star Kai, American football player Jalen Ramsey and Italian rock band Maneskin.
UBS expects Kering’s earnings release on Feb. 15 to show the brand’s fourth-quarter sales fell around 11%, likely one of the steepest downturns among top fashion brands. around the world as strict COVID-19 restrictions weighed on business in China. “The longer the wait for a new creative director at Gucci, the worse the outlook for Kering,” Bernstein analyst Luca Solca said, noting that “more of the same” wouldn’t help the brand recover. its relevance to buyers.
TIMELESS FASHIONS, MARKETING INVESTMENT HSBC analysts, meanwhile, said the efforts made before Michele’s departure could ease the transition, predicting an improvement this year regardless of the creative direction.
They pointed to a recent focus on timeless fashions and higher-priced products, as well as increased marketing spending and an increase in the number of collections, as likely to accelerate business. Gucci has curbed its marketing investments during the pandemic, while LVMH’s two biggest rival brands, Louis Vuitton and Dior, have moved forward, a move analysts say has helped them gain ground over their rivals.
Kering’s other small fashion houses, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga, had seen strong growth towards the end of last year, but Balenciaga was caught up in controversy after a holiday advertising campaign sparked criticism. accusations of inappropriate images with children. Despite the current turmoil at Kering, expectations are high given the group’s strong track record of brand advocacy, analysts said.
The group’s brands are known for “capturing the zeitgeist,” noted Solca, who said Gucci’s past success was “the most impressive turnaround story in luxury history.” The industry also expects big changes at other successful labels.
Management changes at Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior announced this week that a reshuffle of the design team could follow, including in Louis Vuitton’s menswear division, which relies on the studio team. of design since the death of creative director Virgil Abloh at the end of 2021.
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