By and  on February 24, 2010

MILAN — Gucci’s new institutional ad campaign focuses on two words aimed at capturing both the brand’s heritage and the future as the fashion house gets set to celebrate its 90th anniversary next year: Forever Now.

The worldwide campaign, which breaks in international newspapers on Saturday, the day of the fall Gucci show here, is composed of two black-and-white images from the Fifties taken inside the house’s Florentine factory on Via delle Caldaie. Plucked from the archive, the photos portray apron-clad workers painstakingly lopping hides, with swatches of leathers hanging from the wall or under a vaulted ceiling.

“Ninety years of history and tradition are incorporated in many Gucci products, but we felt the urge to better divulge the message to our millions of consumers that aren’t necessarily aware of it,” said Patrizio di Marco, chief executive officer of Gucci Group.

That said, he’s quick to add the campaign isn’t a nostalgic rerun. “It’s about the energy, the craftsmanship and the fact that many sons of the workers in these photos are still with us,” noted the executive.

The artisanal aspect of Gucci’s products is one di Marco is passionate about and something he wants more consumers to know about. “There are very few brands that can boast the heritage and quality of craftsmanship that we have, which is why we want to emphasize it,” he said.

The first Gucci museum, which will be open to the public and be interactive, will open next year and will be housed in the Palazzo della Mercanzia in Piazza della Signoria. A celebratory book is also in the works.

New product packaging made from bark brown recycled paper, embossed with the double G logo and stamped with 1921, the house’s founding year, will be introduced soon.

In 2009, Gucci reported consolidated sales of 2.2 billion euros, or $3 billion at current exchange rates, down 1.4 percent on a comparable basis, while operating income stood at 618 million euros, or $839 million.

But Gucci is looking to the future as much as the past, and is tapping into the latest technology to continue to propel demand. In October, it launched a 24-hour music channel for the iPhone and this season, Gucci is ramping up its Facebook page by offering four angles of live video footage: backstage, the front of the house, a classic runway shot that zooms in and out to show accessories and details, as well as a bird’s-eye view of the whole production. The page can be accessed directly from Gucci’s Facebook homepage or via a link from gucci.com, and features live feeds from Facebook and Twitter. Gucci will also offer free Wi-Fi connections in its show space in Piazza Oberdan here.

In addition, creative director Frida Giannini is reinterpreting the house’s past. Besides iconic motifs such as the double G logo, the horsebit and the red and green ribbon, Giannini has relaunched the “Diamante” pattern, a graphic motif introduced at the brand’s men’s show in January. The pattern stems from the Thirties when a scarcity of leather led company founder Guccio Gucci to dabble with printed canvas.

In that vein, Giannini recently introduced versions of two iconic bags — the Jackie and the Bamboo — alongside the bit loafer for men. “Reintroducing a historic model takes time because first of all, you need to develop the concept in your head,” said Giannini.

As for the fall women’s collection, Giannini is continuing with the luxurious and clean style seen in the men’s wear. “This collection will be very graphic, sleek and frisky. I’m very happy with the color palette, which includes camels, red, black and lots of shine for evening,” said Giannini.

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