Ever wondered, where you need to study, to join a global brand like Gucci, Balenciaga or Tommy Hilfiger?
Business Of Fashion talk about how times have changed and now you need to go to specific schools, where globals brands have started academic programmes to help them recruit top talents. Such feeder programmes, offering both bachelors and masters degrees, are key to landing entry level positions in global brands.
Fashion week is NO MORE! thats according to Gucci.
In a virtual press conference, the label’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, announced that Gucci was slashing the number of fashion shows it holds each year from five to two. Declaring the fashion week calendar obsolete, Michele said he was no longer adhering to a rota staked out by spring/summer, autumn/winter, cruise and pre-fall shows. “I think these are stale and underfed words … clothes should have a longer life than that which these words attribute to them,” he said. Instead, the brand will show “seasonless” collections twice a year. There are no plans for a show in September, when the Gucci collection would normally be staged as a key part of Milan fashion week.
All fashion shows have stopped in its tracks due to Covid-19, with mens-wear and haute couture shows scheduled for June and July cancelled, and the September fashion weeks in doubt. A question mark hangs over not just when – but whether – any of the events will ever come back.
“Above all, we understand we went way too far,” Michele writes on Instagram. “Our reckless actions have burned the house we live in. We conceived of ourselves as separated from nature, we felt cunning and almighty.”
Michele, who has a passion for flowery maximalism that encompasses his prose as well as his clothes, added: “We usurped nature, we dominated and wounded it. We incited Prometheus, and buried Pan."
“So much haughtiness made us lose our sisterhood with the butterflies, the flowers, the trees and the roots. So much outrageous greed made us lose the harmony and the care, the connection and the belonging.”
As the mightiest brand to come out in support of a move to a leaner, less wasteful fashion system, this announcement is significant.
Discussions on the topic of sustainability has been ongoing in the industry for the past month, but the big brands have until now been mostly silent.
The biggest labels, which have profited the most from the system as it stands and have the necessary financial cushion to ride out the incoming economic crisis, have been less motivated to radical change than smaller brands. By throwing their weight behind the forces of change, Gucci has the ability to shift the balance of power in this conversation.
Last month, Saint Laurent announced it would sit out Paris fashion week this September and set its own schedule going forward, a decision made in amid “waves of radical change”.
The brand will “lead its own rhythm … [and] take ownership of its calendar”. Saint Laurent’s opt-out was notable because its catwalk shows, held on the Friday evening of each Paris fashion week on a huge open-air catwalk directly beneath the Eiffel Tower, have become a red-letter date in the French fashion calendar, drawing a supermodel cast, a celebrity front row and large crowds who watch from behind barriers. The absence of a marquee name central to the notion of Parisian chic is a blow to Paris fashion week’s status as the heart of French fashion.
Gucci’s revenue for 2019 was €9.6bn (£8.6bn), dwarfing its Kering stablemate Saint Laurent, which recorded revenue of €2bn for the same period. As the largest and most profitable brand in the Kering luxury group, which also owns Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta, Gucci exerts influence across the industry.
Gucci’s influence is not merely economic. Since taking over five years ago, Michele has positioned himself at the progressive edge of fashion’s engagement with culture.
On the catwalk, his male models wear pussy-bow silk blouses and babydoll dresses. He has dressed the pop star Harry Styles in pearl earrings on stage and the actor Jared Leto in a floor-length evening gown on the Met Gala red carpet.
His embrace of gender fluidity has revolutionised the traditional codes of menswear embedded in Italian fashion, and shifted the mainstream away from what he has called “an aesthetic of toxic masculinity”.
Overhaul of the fashion week system and its heavy carbon footprint has been mooted for years, but in 2020 change is becoming an economic necessity. Kering and LVMH, the two largest luxury groups, recorded a drop in revenue of about 15% for the first three months of this year.
Jean-Marc Duplaix, Kering’s chief financial officer, told Womenswear Daily last month that the group was planning “drastic” cost reductions at brand level as it braced for ongoing poor results.
In recent years, Gucci has staged blockbuster shows at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Capitoline Museum in Rome, in addition to events during fashion week. The latest cruise collection had been scheduled for an unveiling in San Francisco last week, until the pandemic forced cancellation.
In mid December, TSG Consumer Partners (“TSG”), a leading private equity firm focused exclusively on the branded consumer sector, and Huda Beauty, one of the world's fastest-growing beauty brands, announced that TSG has acquired a stake in Huda Beauty. Ofcourse, the financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. TSG see Huda Beauty's industry leading digital reach, their amazing global influence and ofcourse best-in-class product offerings as a grounds for joining forces and help lead the brand into the future.
We all know that markups in luxury fashion can be ridiculously high. The journey from the factory to floor, gets items to be priced at higher than they cost.
Now E-commerce site Italic is betting that removing the branding and the mark-up will prove a hit with consumers. A big bet indeed!
The start-up’s members-only marketplace, which launched last Thursday, allows manufacturers that create products for luxury brands to sell directly to consumers without the LOGOs adding markups. Shoppers who pay a $120 annual membership fee can choose from a selection of unbranded luxury goods, from bags and wallets to prescription eyewear and leather jackets, produced by the same factories that count names like Prada, Givenchy, Celine and Burberry among their clients.
The company has raised $13 million in funding, from various top end investors. Over 100,000 people joined a waiting list to be notified when membership opens, with signups initially limited to the US, said company founder Jeremy Cai.
Upon launching, the platform will have nearly 60 styles live on the site, with a view to double this number by the end of the year. However, customers won’t find unbranded versions of the Gucci Dionysus bag or any of the latest Celine creations. All products sold on Italic will be unique and exclusive to the platform to avoid infringing on brands’ intellectual property / copyrighted designs.
The start-up joins a growing number of brands, including Everlane and Warby Parker, which provide a premium-feeling, minimally branded product at relatively affordable prices. Within the luxury sector, high-end retailers, including Mr Porter, Joseph and MatchesFashion, are expanding their private label collections, which tend to be priced below standard luxury fare.
Italic goes one step further, selling items that lack even the private label branding. The marketplace will instead focus on providing the infrastructure — from marketing, design and warehousing to customer support — to enable manufacturers to sell products directly. The company will take a commission on sales.
“We essentially do everything that brands do and more, but we do it for the manufacturers,” Cai said.
For example, Italic’s merchandising team will work with factories that have product and pattern libraries to tweak existing designs so they don’t mimic products already on the market. Italic also has two designers, alumni of Armani and Calvin Klein, to work with manufacturers that don’t have in-house creative teams.
“We are very careful about every single product that we sell being originally designed, you won’t find an exact product like it in the market,” Cai said. “We want breadth and coverage of a lot of different styles.”
Branding can be a powerful tool, especially in a sector like luxury, where purchases are emotional rather than practical. That’s especially true for “statement” products, like handbags.
“People buy branded products to be reassured of the quality and style of the item and also for their projected image: they somehow communicate to other people the style, sophistication and preferences of their owner,” said Mario Ortelli, managing partner of luxury advisors Ortelli & Co. “You want to feel and show that you are part of the brand story.”
But Cai doesn’t anticipate the manufacturers on Italic’s marketplace competing head to head with luxury brands.
“For a person who is going to buy a Gucci bag, we are never going to win them over with unbranded product,” he said. “That doesn’t mean in some avenue of their life, they wouldn’t be open to switching up their sheets or maybe a shirt, or a leather jacket, where they actually don’t like a logo on there.”
As well as geographical expansion and international shipping, the platform’s short term goals include expanding into product categories like activewear and beauty. The focus will remain on luxury, Cai said.
“The reason we want to start in luxury is because we can say to the customer: we can make premium product effectively and replace a lot of your aspirational shopping,” he said.