Written by: May Doherty, Owner
Over its 98-year history, the Gucci brand has experienced its share of highs and lows. Not so long ago it was a floundering Italian design house that was clinging to very conservative and traditional ways. Though known for quality craftsmanship and an iconic logo, they just weren’t meeting the needs of an ever-changing global economy. Today Gucci is one of the hottest designer brands on the market, nearly doubling its sales in 2018. Gucci has become such a phenomenon that their (newly revamped) stores can’t keep most items in stock longer than a couple days.
The credit for this amazing turnaround goes to creative director Alessandro Michele who came on board in 2015. Michelle is a maximalist and loves mixing different eras and styles including streetwear and glam rock influences. The clothes are younger, bolder and wilder. Michele has a keen awareness of what young people want including bright, eclectic colors and patterns that are engaging, eye-catching and look good on Instagram. Michele’s sleek sexy aesthetic and gender fluidity are resonating with his younger demographic (we’re looking at you millennials), who tend to support authentic, inclusive and creative brands or companies. There is also the star factor; celebrities like Rihanna, Jared Leto, and Lil Wayne wear Gucci on and off the stage and Harry Styles is now appearing in Gucci ad campaigns.
Another contributing factor is that fashion is cyclical. Designers cycle through the decades, reinterpreting and updating styles and trends, putting their stamp on a look. While the Gucci clothing is admittedly amazing (and pricey), it is the accessories that have always been the mainstay of the brand, and Michele found a way to capitalize on this. In another genius move, he tapped into the population’s love of logos and went to town with the Gucci GG logo. He enhanced, embellished and enlarged the logo as well as added fur lining on shoes and bags (remember the maximalist thing)? And oh yeah, that belt that everyone wants or has.
Gucci is also benefiting from the revival of the 1990’s style when logos reigned supreme. As an industry expert said, “Alessandro knows the value of sale-ability, which Gucci coffers badly needed. Look at the logo belts, cheap enough for someone who doesn’t have the budget for a Gucci coat to buy into the brand and clearly show that they are wearing Gucci. The price point is clever, the loafers are £400-£500 (roughly $570-$710) and not £700 (roughly $990) like many designer shoes and the Soho bags start at £600 (roughly $850).”
Despite the price tags, Gucci is hugely popular with teens and millennials who aspire to wear what they see on their favorite rappers and movie stars. Though still very much an expensive luxury brand, it’s no longer exclusively for the elite. A whopping 55% of Gucci sales are to people under 35, much higher than usual for a luxury brands.
Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, it seems like Gucci is doing it right from every angle: public relations, the right amount of accessibility, celebrity endorsement, street style endorsement, and a demographic that can’t get enough of them.