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.”
@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)
Breaking News: @hedislimane joins @celine as its new artistic, creative and image director. One of fashion’s preeminent image-makers and trendsetters, Slimane is to join the LVMH brand on Feb. 1 and unveil his first fashion proposition for men and women next September during Paris Fashion Week. It marks a major homecoming for Slimane, who cemented his reputation – and influenced men’s tailoring for more than a decade – as the designer of Dior Homme between 2000 and 2007. He went on to reinvent and ignite the house of Yves Saint Laurent, which he rechristened Saint Laurent, between 2012 and 2016 – all the while maintaining a close relationship with the Arnault family, which controls LVMH and Dior. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
“Personally I believe the Eighties have been the richest and more vivacious period for international fashion,” Giorgio Armani said when asked what his favorite decade of fashion is. It was a moment of disruption and experimentation and only thinking back to the first years of that decade is always an emotion for me, for what they have meant to me and my work.” The influence is clear in @giorgioarmani spring 2018 collection, pictured here, which was full of bright colors and unexpected prints. Read more about which decades designers loved most on WWD.com #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
For Lady Gaga’s only Italian show on her “Joanne World Tour,” the singer wore a range of @versace_official outfits. The standout piece: this custom-made bodysuit inspired by the brand’s spring 2018 collection. #wwdfashion (RG: @ladygaga)
@_camillaruth_ is expanding on the wellness-craze concept with @westbourne – a new NYC restaurant that’s both a healthy-minded café as well as a business that gives back to the community. Marcus works with the Robin Hood foundation to give back to The Door, a non-profit providing youth development services, and also hires employees through The Door. Read our full interview with Marcus on giving back through food on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)