Can Xiao Zhan’s star power amplify Sabato De Sarno’s Gucci in China?

    How are Chinese shoppers reacting to Sabato De Sarno’s new creative direction, with Chinese actor and singer Xiao Zhan fronting the latest campaign?
    Image: Dipsy迪西’s Weibo
      Published   in Fashion

    At Gucci’s Fall Winter 2024 presentation, impeccably-cut tailored jackets, sexy lingerie, and uber-short skirts paired with over-the-knee riding boots dominated the runway. Cranberry red popped throughout the collection and was the hue of the invitation, which took the form of a personalized notebook.

    Much of what Sabato De Sarno presented at the last Gucci Ancora show was consolidated in this season’s looks.

    Looks from Gucci’s Fall Winter 2024 collection. Image: Gucci
    Looks from Gucci’s Fall Winter 2024 collection. Image: Gucci

    Following the departure of Alessandro Michele, renowned for redefining Gucci with his boldly eccentric aesthetic, anticipation looms over the performance of its new creative director, Sabato De Sarno.

    As a former Valentino talent, expectations run high regarding his ability to meet consumer demands and reverse Kering’s recent sales downturn — down by 6 percent in the final quarter of 2023. Although his inaugural collection is now hitting stores, the actual impact on revenue remains to be seen.

    On Weibo, Chinese netizens were primarily fixated on brand ambassador Xiao Zhan. His presence at the Milan show propelled the livestream to over 33 million views, and there’s little doubt that the pieces he adorned will swiftly sell out upon release.

    According to marketing platform Lefty, Gucci holds the fourth position in earned media value (EMV) generated during Milan Fashion Week, garnering a total of $7.06 million (50 million RMB).

    However, the question arises: Can Xiao Zhan alone sustain the sales of Kering’s flagship brand, especially as it aims to surpass $10 billion in annual revenue? While fans can enhance a luxury brand’s visibility, they do not necessarily constitute its core consumer base.

    Xiao Zhan arriving at Gucci’s show. Image: Dipsy迪西's Weibo
    Xiao Zhan arriving at Gucci’s show. Image: Dipsy迪西's Weibo

    Gucci’s strategic shift towards tailoring, quality, and understated luxury is aimed at capturing the attention of ultra-high-net-worth individuals willing to invest thousands of dollars in a single coat. Notably, the prices of Gucci handbags on China’s second-hand market are consistently decreasing, necessitating a swift image restoration for the brand.

    Local netizens are expressing positive sentiments about the latest fall collection. For instance, Weibo user @floatingthoughts commented, “The craftsmanship of the clothing is really commendable.”

    However, to achieve the house’s ambitious goal, celebrity ambassadors and superior tailoring may not suffice. Sabato De Sarno must envision and enforce a distinct code of aesthetics at Gucci, offering consumers a compelling reason to choose a Gucci coat over alternatives.

    Discover more
    Daily BriefAnalysis, news, and insights delivered to your inbox.