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Gucci hits runway as fashion world awaits new designer

Gucci kicked off Milan fashion week on Friday with a lineup of slouchy, androgynous menswear styles, forging ahead with its latest collection while
the industry waits for owner Kering to name a new designer for the label.

January 14, 2023
By Mimosa Spencer and Elisa Anzolin
14 January 2023

By Mimosa Spencer and Elisa Anzolin

PARIS/MILAN, Jan 13 (Reuters) – Gucci kicked off Milan
fashion week on Friday with a lineup of slouchy, androgynous
menswear styles, forging ahead with its latest collection while
the industry waits for owner Kering to name a new
designer for the label.

French luxury group Kering faces pressure to quickly find a
replacement following the abrupt departure in November of
Alessandro Michele, the flamboyant designer who was a favourite
of Harry Styles and Lady Gaga, and reignite sales growth at its
largest brand, which accounted for two thirds of profits in

The question of who will steer Gucci’s creative direction
loomed over the megabrand’s first men’s show in the Italian
fashion capital in three years. Events run through Jan. 17,
drawing an audience that includes major retail buyers sizing up
which styles might be future top sellers.

There were echoes of Michele’s eccentric, gender-fluid
styles at Gucci’s catwalk presentation on Friday.

Models circled a darkened room to the growling music of live
band Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, parading oversize suit coats with
wide lapels and ample, pleated trousers in pale beige and pastel
tones, with new renditions of house classics, along with
reminders of Michele’s tenure, including furry, horse-bit
embellished slippers.

“A palette cleanser from the collections we have seen across
the past few seasons,” said Simon Longland, head of menswear and
womenswear at London department store Harrods.

He said the show provided a “new approach” to house styles,
with a range of fabrics and jacket shapes that would likely
appeal to fans of its signature looks as well as new customers.

Show notes, which buyers scrutinize for signs of the label’s
next steps, referred to improvisation and collaboration.

“When the free impulses of individual minds interweave,
collective expressions are conceived,” the brand’s notes said.

Shimmery silver pants and quilted motorcycle boots added
touches of flamboyancy to the neutral-colored looks, which were
taken in by celebrities in the audience including K-pop star
Kai, American football player Jalen Ramsey and Italian rock band

UBS expects Kering’s Feb. 15 earnings release will show the
label’s fourth quarter sales declined by around 11%, likely one
of the more pronounced slowdowns among the world’s top fashion
labels, as strict COVID-19 restrictions weighed on business in

“The longer the wait for a new Gucci creative director, the
worse the outlook for Kering,” said Luca Solca, analyst with
Bernstein, noting that “more of the same” would not help the
label regain its relevance with shoppers.


Analysts at HSBC, meanwhile, said efforts taken before
Michele’s departure could ease the transition, predicting
improvement this year regardless of who takes up creative

They pointed to a recent emphasis on timeless fashions and
higher-priced products as well as a ramp-up of marketing spend
and an increase in the number of collections as likely serving
to accelerate business.

Gucci held back on marketing investments during the
pandemic, while larger rival LVMH’s two biggest labels Louis
Vuitton and Dior pushed ahead, a move that analysts say helped
them gain ground on rivals.

Kering’s other, smaller fashion houses Saint Laurent,
Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga had been growing strongly heading
into the end of last year, but Balenciaga got caught up in
controversy after a holiday ad campaign drew accusations of
inappropriate imagery with children.

Despite the current turbulence at Kering, however,
expectations are high given the group’s strong track record
nurturing brands, analysts say.

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 is also expecting big changes at other
blockbuster labels.

Top management changes at Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior
announced this week prompted talk that a design team reshuffle
could follow, including at Louis Vuitton’s menswear division,
which has leaned on design studio team since the death of
creative director Virgil Abloh in late 2021.
(Reporting by Mimosa Spencer in Paris and Elisa Anzolin in
Editing by Frances Kerry and Frank Jack Daniel)

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