What happened: On Friday January 13, Gucci staged their Fall 2023 menswear collection in Milan. It marked the first show following creative director Alessandro Michele’s exit. And after seven years, Michele’s extravagantly embellished, more-is-more attitude that has become synonymous with the luxury house, seems to have parted with him.
The collection featured toned down palettes and a focus on timeless staples, with tailoring and splashes of color. That otherworldly kookiness which Gucci models have been presenting to us over the past seven years was replaced by more toned-down, clean-cut ensembles that you might more likely see walking down the street in London or Milan.
All in all, it’s a new aesthetic that people are having trouble defining. Perhaps, it’s a blank slate or palate cleanser moment; a pause before the next creative director takes over. Either way, Chinese netizens immediately took to social media to discuss the new minimalist look.
The Jing Take: The consensus across Chinese social media platforms is that this Gucci collection did not look like it was by the luxury house. People compared it to the likes of high street brand Zara, and then, perhaps more favorably, to The Row and Celine, due to a more minimalist direction.
In short, Chinese consumers were less enthusiastic – this is to be expected prior to a new name at the helm. Michele’s Spring 2023 Twinsburg show – featuring 68 pairs of identical twins – for example, was a complete viral hit in China. It had fans talking about both the unusual concept, and Michele’s eye-catching designs. By comparison, the Fall 2023 collection did not hold any viral appeal.
That being said, the next few months are crucial as Gucci accounts for over 50 percent of Kering Group’s annual sales. In China, it is one of the most popular luxury brands amongst consumers. According to Barclays estimates, the mainland accounts for around 35 percent of Gucci’s annual sales, compared to 27 percent of fashion and leather goods sales for LVMH and 26 percent for Hermès.
Whether or not those figures will continue to strengthen post-Michele is looking ambiguous. Is this the mere foreshadowing of another statement designer to present their own fingerprint, one which will regain Chinese attention? Or is this a new, less-is-more era for Gucci?
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.