MILAN — The 26th edition of the Pambianco Fashion Summit, held at Milan’s Bourse on Tuesday morning, was the stage for Gucci president and chief executive officer Marco Bizzarri to announce that the luxury brand is returning to show its collections in Milan.
Bizzarri said Gucci will make a comeback to Milan Fashion Week in February, and, during 2022, the brand will stage two other coed shows, for the cruise 2022 and spring 2023 seasons, held in late spring and September, respectively.
Asked about the formats and shows that the brand will adopt in the future, Bizzarri said that “it will depend on the moment.” Gucci hosted its last show in Milan in February 2020, when it presented the fall 2020 women’s collection that creative director Alessandro Michele dedicated to the multitiered ritual of designing, making, staging and viewing a fashion show.
After the COVID-19 outbreak, Gucci skipped the spring 2021 men’s shows and presentations in Milan in June and unveiled the “Epilogue” collection, coinciding with a resort 2021 delivery, with a digital showcase in July 2020. In November 2020, Gucci presented the “Ouverture of Something That Never Ended” coed collection — a sort of spring 2021 lineup, with a miniseries developed in collaboration with director Gus Van Sant — while the brand celebrated its 100th anniversary in April with the “Aria” men’s and women’s fall 2021 digital showcase.
“At that specific moment [after the kickoff of the pandemic], we wanted to take our time to design the new Gucci for the next five years,” said Bizzarri, explaining the company’s decision to take a step back from the traditional formats and schedules. “I don’t think that in the history of fashion there has been a label so strong to redesign itself without changing its creative director,” said Bizzarri, praising Michele’s talent.
This has enabled the designer, starting with the “Aria” collection, which is now in store, to kick off a new creative chapter for the fashion house. The latest step was the release of the “Love Parade” collection, unveiled with a runway show on Los Angeles’ Hollywood Boulevard earlier this month, which marked Gucci’s official comeback to the physical format.
At the same time, Bizzarri highlighted how the brand has entered a new phase not only leveraging a creative evolution, but also revisiting its distribution strategy, which, with the goal of “upgrading the brand,” he observed, led to a significant reduction of its global wholesale business, ending contracts with department stores, revisiting agreements with duty free doors and creating concessions within e-tailers.
“Our wholesale business in 2019 amounted to 1.2 billion euros and in 2021 it totaled 750 million euros, but we are stronger than we were in 2019,” said Bizzarri, adding that the company expects to close 2021 in line with the revenues of 2019 at constant exchange rate.
As highlighted by a research conducted by Pambianco of 16 of the most powerful companies in the luxury arena, Gucci’s retail business showed significant growth from 2016 to 2020. If five years ago it accounted for 64 of their total revenues, in 2020 it increased to 75 percent of those brands’ total sales.
In research issued on Tuesday, HSBC expects Gucci, after a weak third quarter, to rebound shortly, driven by the release of the “Aria” collection; the collaboration with Balenciaga, and the 100th anniversary collection, available in dedicated pop-up stores in London, Milan, Berlin and Paris. In addition, HSBC also noted that the appointment of “Squid Game” actor Jung-Jae Lee and of Min-a Shin as new global ambassadors, as well as the upcoming release of Ridley’s Scott “House of Gucci” movie, will strongly benefit the brand.
During the speech at the Pambianco summit, Bizzarri also revealed how the company will expand its constellation of restaurants opened in collaboration with Michelin-starred Italian chef Massimo Bottura with a new location in Seoul, to be inaugurated next year. The choice of opening in South Korea reflects Gucci’s focus on Asia , where according to Pambianco research, the label generated 51 percent of its revenues in 2020.
Asia will also play a key role in the further development of Moncler, which according to chairman and CEO Remo Ruffini, adopted, like Gucci, a strategy aimed at expanding its direct-to-consumer business. “I think in our industry you have to be ready to question yourself every day. Over the past three years, we saw an incredible acceleration of global change. We went from selling a product to being asked to fascinate and engage with a community,” said Ruffini at the summit. “One of the strategies that we put into action is the creation of concessions within e-tailers, that is something not instrumental to sell more, but to better communicate our project leveraging online retailers’ incredible services.”
The same shift from wholesale to retail that interested Moncler is expected to happen at Stone Island, which Moncler Group acquired last December. “The big challenge there is to activate that change in the company culture that we had made at Moncler,” said Ruffini.
Real estate will drive the brand awareness of the Roberto Cavalli company in Dubai, where the fashion house’s owner, Damac Properties, is building the 70-story residential Cavalli Tower, located on the Dubai Marina, overlooking the Palm Jumeirah. The name of the development may anticipate an imminent rebranding of Roberto Cavalli into Cavalli, a move that general manager Ennio Fontana didn’t deny on the stage of the summit. According to the manager, Cavalli, which in 2021 generated revenues of 60 million euros, is expected to reach break-even next year posting revenues of 80 million euros. “In four or five years, the goal is to generate revenues of between 160 and 180 million euros, royalties coming from licensees excluded,” Fontana said.
While Gruppo Florence, established in October 2020 to develop a platform supplying high-quality Made in Italy products to major luxury fashion brands, is broadening its portfolio to include 12 manufacturers, its CEO Attila Kiss said an initial public offering is in the company’s future, one that, once upcoming acquisitions are completed, will generate revenues of more than 170 million euros.
In a world getting more and more digital, human emotions still play a key role for the future of brands, according to Italian managers.
Lorenzo Osti, president of C.P. Company, which since passing under the control of Tristate Holding in 2016 saw its revenues grow to 80 million euros from 8 million euros, pointed to the rise of a new anthropomorphism in the industry — “where brands, like people, embrace ethical values,” said VF Corp. executive vice president and Europe, Middle East, Africa president Martino Scabbia Guerrini. He cited a “new digital empathy” connecting labels with consumers looking for specific values reflected in the products they buy.
According to a research conducted by PwC in Italy across Millennials and Gen Zers, the first group looks at the Made in Italy production as the factor mostly influencing the choice of a specific brand, while Gen Z is more sensitive to labels’ commitment to sustainability. Environmental responsibility also drives 42 percent of the purchases of secondhand items, that are mostly made in physical stores, while digital platforms are becoming more popular especially among Gen Zers. The PwC research also highlighted that almost the totality of those interviewed said they agreed with the Italian government’s decision to make mandatory, from Jan. 1, the recycling of both urban and commercial textile waste. However, if 34 percent of Gen Zers mainly select natural and sustainable products, 34 percent of Millennials takes in consideration best value for the money.