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Gucci Opens a Season of Uncertainty for Luxury Fashion

The Kering-owned brand will stage its first men’s show in three years while in-between creative directors, one of many questions facing the industry in 2023. Plus, what else to expect in the coming week.
Gucci's latest collections featured more understated , timeless items alongside Alessandro Michele's signature funky eyewear.
Gucci's latest collections featured more understated , timeless items alongside Alessandro Michele's signature funky eyewear. (Courtesy)

It’s a strange start to the Autumn/Winter 2023 season. Gucci is kicking off Milan Fashion Week with its first standalone men’s show in three years, only now it will also serve as the brand’s first outing without Alessandro Michele, who stepped down as creative director in November.

The brand hasn’t said much about its plans for the show, or for finding a replacement for Michele. That process can stretch on – Louis Vuitton is going on 14 months without a creative director for menswear following the death of Virgil Abloh in November 2021. But Gucci’s transition is almost certain to be quicker – owner Kering is eager to deliver a creative and commercial revamp of its biggest brand, which has grown slower and more unevenly than rivals for years.

Gucci is a suitable opener to a year of uncertainty for luxury brands. Louis Vuitton, Dior, Balenciaga and other big labels glided through the pandemic: their customers had plenty of money to spend while stuck at home, and then again to build new wardrobes once they were ready to go out again. But the outlook is cloudy, as an economic downturn could be brutal for middle-class consumers who still make up a big portion of luxury sales. Shifting appetites could see social media-ready gimmicks and logo-heavy merchandise that helped drive sales in recent years fall flat.

One way this could all show up on the runway is if brands gear their shows more toward highlighting stuff people will actually buy, versus attention-grabbing stunts. A Michele-less Gucci would be a prime candidate for this sort of pivot, but other brands could shift priorities too as they brace for tough times. The runway isn’t usually the place for sensible fashion, but brands that bridge the gap between fantasy and retail reality, like Miu Miu with its ballet flats and micro-mini skirt, will be rewarded.

Monday

Brunello Cucinelli full-year 2022 results

Tuesday

The Golden Globes holds its first ceremony since 2021

Pitti Immagine Uomo kicks off in Florence, Italy

Thursday

Martine Rose shows at Pitti Uomo

US reports December inflation figures

Friday

Gucci opens Milan Fashion Week, Men’s

UK reports November GDP

Saturday

Emporio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi and others show in Milan

The Week Ahead wants to hear from you! Send tips, suggestions, complaints and compliments to brian.baskin@businessoffashion.com.

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