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.”
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)