I was once asked about Gucci's position in the fashion world; does it stack up against its competitors & does this fashion house still have a future given its challenges.
When I attended the Fashion Institute Of Technology, my area of focus was Global Marketing of Luxury Brands. As a result, I studied luxury brands extensively, but even though it is a premium brand, most of my analysis was done on Gucci. I mean, I have pulled “all-nighters”, written 10-page research papers & created Powerpoint slide decks on this stuff. Personally, I wanted to work more on brands like Hèrmes, but as they saying goes, “those are the breaks”, when you lose the group vote. Yay! Group projects!
So, with that being said, let’s take a closer look at Gucci:
It all started in 1923 with Guccio Gucci selling imported luggage in a small shop in Florence, Italy. The business soon flourished & Mr. Gucci added a workshop producing his own designs. However, in the1930’s, the fascist leader, Mussolini, rose to power. This made business very difficult due to limitations placed on textiles. As a result, several brands were forced improvise. Gucci began to use bamboo & canvas, focusing on small leather goods which, included belts & wallets. Mr. Gucci eventually brought his sons Rodolfo & Aldo into the family business. The brand soon began to attract A-list clients like Jackie O & Grace Kelly.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
During the early 70's, Gucci took a dive due to family drama & 3rd-party licensing. As of consequence, the brand’s luxurious reputation became compromised. Moreover, the brand lacked innovation & design creativity. Guccio Gucci’s grandson, Maurizio took the reigns of the brand in the early 80’s, enlisting the help of Domenico Sole who he appointed as the President & Managing Director of Gucci America, helping to bring back the brand’s integrity. Maurizio later sought the expertise of Dawn Mello, the former President of Bergdorf Goodman in New York City, with an extensive background in retail. He offered her the position as Creative Director at the Milan HQ with the goal of turning things around. Mello, soon hired Tom Ford, which gave the brand new creative life, but the company was still in turmoil as it was on the verge of bankruptcy despite the staff change.
Gucci has managed to avoid the “chopping block”. Saved from its demise by Francois-Henri Pinault, the owner of the Kering Group, while narrowly escaping the grasp of Bernard Arnaud. The LVMH founder had his sights on the brand, hoping to add it to his long list of acquisitions. Since the Kering takeover & the design talent of Tom Ford, Gucci has returned to much of its former strength. Today, the brand is still highly desired, with Millennials as its largest demographic. In fact, Gucci’s growth strategy has caused the company to pass the $6 billion dollar mark for the first time in 2017. Some of this success is credited to its luxury streetwear, which has been a huge hit with the younger generation. As a result, the brand leads the charge in revenue for the Kering Group with annual growth rates around 50%
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