While the critical response to Alessandro Michele’s debut at Gucci was varied, the thing that Kering, the company that owns Gucci, is likely more concerned with is sales. With the goal of breaking last year’s €3.49 billion in revenue, Kering placed a lot of weight behind Michele’s estate-sale swans and gender-neutral waifs. The burning question is still: Will it pay off?
After speaking with top retail buyers, we can report that the signs are good for Gucci. “I think it was absolutely what needed to be done,” began Net-a-Porter’s newly appointed VP of global buying, Sarah Rutson. “Fashion needs energy. Fashion needs sometimes to scratch at a sore—rip off a scab, rip off a plaster. And, you know, no one’s talked about Gucci in a long time. They’ve got to re-engage a new dialogue, so I’m wholly supporting it.”
Linda Fargo, Bergdorf Goodman’s senior vice president, echoed Rutson’s sentiment, telling Style.com, “The welcome new girl in town in Milan was definitely named Gucci. If nothing else remains a constant in fashion, it’s change. We’re rather beguiled by the new dishabille mood here, the luxe take on cool. We anticipate a new audience and client will follow her.”
Buyers especially took to the blouses that echoed the ones shown at Gucci’s Fall 2015 men’s show. “I loved the colored blouses in pink and blue and the feminine floral prints in the dresses. I’m also really into the tie-neck blouse for Fall ’15,” explained Brooke Jaffe, Bloomingdale’s fashion director for women’s ready-to-wear. Rutson also highlighted the blouses as a hit, along with the floral and ruffled dresses and the pleated leather skirts.
Erica Russo, Bloomingdale’s fashion director for accessories and beauty, saw promise in the accessories offering, too, explaining, “The classic horse-bit loafer updated with fur lining was definitely notable. It was traditional Gucci but with renewed, cheeky detail.” Fargo agreed, adding, “My personal shopping list is the surrealist soft leather fur-lined bit slide shoe…like walking around with Marcel Duchamp.” For Ruston, who doesn’t buy fur as part of Net-a-Porter’s mandate, the new GG logo belts and boxy bag shape Michele introduced were of great interest.
Some industry insiders wondered if the new youthful slant of the show would isolate Gucci from an important demographic: women with disposable incomes who, generally, are past the age of Royal Tenenbaums references. Buyers certainly don’t think so. “It’s about styling,” Rutson explained, citing Hedi Slimane’s unstoppable retail success with the youth-obsessed runway shows he creates at Saint Laurent. “Saint Laurent would not be doing the business it is doing—and in ready-to-wear—if that was not being sold to a large segment of women of many ages, young included,” Rutson continued. “Our average-aged customer is not going to have a problem with [Gucci’s] collection when we break it down and restyle it. But I do know we’ll open up a new customer base with it, and that is what’s important.”
—Steff Yotka, Style.com