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Hoping to reverse a prolonged sales slump at Gucci, its marquee brand, the French luxury group Kering said on January 20 that it had promoted Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s head of accessories, to Creative Director.
Michele, 42, replaces his former boss, Frida Giannini, who, along with the Chief Executive Patrizio di Marco, who left the Italian fashion house at the end of last year.
Though the appointment has been widely rumored within the industry in recent weeks, the choice of Michele, who is virtually unknown outside of Gucci and the accessories field, represents a gamble for Kering, which is betting that future sales will be driven by the power of the Gucci brand and accessories, as opposed to the drawing power of a star designer.
Luca Solca, a luxury analyst at Exane BNP Paribas in London, said Gucci had a lot of potential in the competitive luxury goods market. Leather goods, particularly shoes and handbags, have emerged as one of the fastest-growing categories in luxury.
“What Gucci needs is to inject the brand with new ideas and create a new buzz around it,” Solca said. “Handbags and leather goods are going to be very important to bring novelty to the market and to give consumers new reasons to come back to Gucci stores.”
Marco Bizzarri, who took over this month as Gucci’s new Chief Executive, said the selection of Michele was “based upon the contemporary vision he has articulated for the brand.”
Kering is the world’s third-largest luxury group, after LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton of France and Richemont of Switzerland. Besides Gucci, Kering’s brands include Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent.
While many of Kering’s smaller labels have borne up well against an industry wide slowdown, sales at Gucci, which accounts for nearly a third of the group’s annual revenue, have stalled in recent years.
“Gucci is primarily a leather goods brand, and where you need new ideas is leather goods,” Solca told the New York Times. “I think that is the area that is becoming far more crowded with new entrants and putting brands like Gucci on their toes.”