Since it was founded in 1921, Gucci has remained one of the most influential fashion houses for luxury attire. In 2019, the brand cashed in at 10.2 billion dollars in value. Their power and reach is undeniable – little less than a third of all Americans own one of their fashion items or accessories. Their strong online presence allows the brand to continue its reach and output: they had nearly 19.5 million visits to their website in 2019 and have now racked up 40.5 million followers on Instagram.
Amidst the lockdown pandemic, the Italian fashion brand's creative director has stated the current spring/summer and autumn/winter shows are "stale and underfed words" and that "clothes should have a longer life than that which these words attribute to them."
But when it feels like Gucci is all-systems go, why have they chosen to lessen their seasonal outputs now?
Covid-19 is changing the fashion world one garment at a time: consumers are reevaluating what is really necessary; designers are rethinking sustainability; there's even talk a new movement of creativity and innovation could rise out of the ashes.
Is it really necessary for us to showcase wealth on an item that could be outdated the following week?
So when Gucci decided to scrap their usual five shows a year and replace it with two seasonless collections, it seems to feed into exactly this logic. And what better time to do it? When we're barely leaving our houses other than for our daily bit of exercise, popping to the corner shop or meeting a friend in a park, is it really necessary for us to showcase wealth on an item that could be outdated the following week? Surely coronavirus has taught us more than that.
This isn't the first time Gucci has adapted during testing times. In the 1940s, under a fascist dictatorship, Gucci had to resource substitute materials for their iconic leather bags and belts as it became difficult to come by. But that didn't stop the company thriving under new-found circumstances; in fact, their burnished cane bag, which emerged out of that period, still lines the shelves today. Who knows, this might be the perfect opportunity for the label to brandish a new bestseller.
In their series of diary posts on instagram, Alessandro Michele reflects on how the brand must strive to be different from what it once was.
He writes: "Our history is littered with crises that have taught us nothing. With economic collapses and social devastation that were tackled by imposing the same recipes from which they originated. [...] This present, then, entrusts us with important responsibilities. [...] This crisis has somehow amplified such transformative urgency, which can't be deferred anymore."Alessandro Michele, Gucci's creative director
I'll confess, I don't own a single item from Gucci. How many students can say they do? Perhaps if I did, I'd have qualms about something I loved being torn away from me. But as we progress through this unprecedented period, I think it's time we look to the future of fashion, with sustainability at its forefront.
Covid-19 has got everyone thinking about value and as Michele suggests, the clothes too need a longer and more cherished life. The news that Gucci is making the switch hasn't surprised me, just instilled me with a hope that others may follow suit. After all, when everything is uncertain, everything that is important becomes clear.