MILAN — It’s not every day you see a chief executive officer of a $3.2 billion business patiently waiting in line at the canteen of the manufacturing plant he oversees. Nor are the artisans used to being asked for their opinion on the future of the company for which they cut and stitch hides by hand each day.
This, however, is Patrizio di Marco’s modus operandi at Gucci. In his first days at the company, di Marco, who joined the brand as president and ceo on Jan. 1, chose to shake hands with each worker at the Casellina plant in Tuscany and get the answer to a straight question directly from those who craft those famed double-G logoed hobos.
“What would you do? This is the most difficult question to answer,” said di Marco at Gucci’s Milan showroom during his first interview since taking the helm. “My priority was to meet the workers, to go and see how things worked and check out the production. People are the miracle [in a business] and nobody is an island.
“I hate it when you only talk to those directly reporting to you — you don’t create a team,” said the effusive and personable executive, whose track record includes the turnaround of Bottega Veneta as that firm’s president and ceo. Di Marco replaced Mark Lee at Gucci, and has held executive positions at Louis Vuitton Americas, Celine and Prada.
“It’s my karma,” he joked of taking over one of the world’s major luxury brands in the midst of a recession and curbed consumer spending. When di Marco joined Bottega Veneta, the brand had lost direction and he had to face the post-9/11 downturn. While Gucci has grown 46 percent over the past three years, the new ceo does face one of the worst economies in decades.
But he has a clear vision for the brand. Peppering his conversation with references to Gucci’s history, the executive is focused on leveraging one of the company’s main assets — its deeply rooted craftsmanship. “Gucci’s competence is absolutely exceptional,” said di Marco, who believes in preserving the brand’s Made in Italy production and shuns outsourcing. “This is not about protectionism, but can you imagine a Ferrari being made outside Modena? I’m not sure luxury is about outsourcing,” he said.
Responding to his own question about steps that need to be taken, di Marco is set on emphasizing quality. “Especially now, value and price are increasingly more important and fundamental — as much as the product offer,” he said. “Many companies feel privileged, leveraging on the brand, in the belief that the product will sell anyway. That’s abusive, because the customer is king and as such must be treated that way.”
Di Marco recalled his first meeting with creative director Frida Giannini to the date. “It was on Oct. 10, in her office, and we talked six hours straight,” he said. Di Marco said he wanted to understand how big the merchandising aspect was for the designer. “I was under the impression that the collections were excessively large and wide ranging, both in terms of leather goods and fashion,” said the executive. “Frida is extremely cooperative in merchandising and open to offer new trends, but there were too many materials, in too many variations. This creates confusion in the mind of the customer, and has less shelf life — it’s more similar to fast fashion.”
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)