Apr 5th, 2018, 08:23 PM

Alessandro Michele's Golden Gucci Touch

By Cristina Mendoza
Image credit: instagram.com/gucci
A look into Gucci's creative director and how he made the luxury brand into one of the most successful companies in the world.

Alessandro Michele seems to have the golden touch when it comes to being the creative director at Gucci, where he was appointed to in January 2015. As creative director, he is responsible for Gucci’s collections and overall global brand image.

Most recently, Michele and Gucci have been in the headlines for Gucci’s posthuman-esque show in Milan fashion week. The show took place in a surgical room setting and models carried bizarre accessories such as a baby dragon, a fake snake, and replicas of their own heads. Since Michele has been the creative director at Gucci, the brand has also seen its greatest increase in revenue ever in its history.

The mastermind behind Gucci’s success studied at the Accademia di Costume e di Moda in Rome. He then began his career as an accessories designer at Fendi. In 2002, Tom Ford chose Michele to work in Gucci’s London office where, at the time, he was the director of leather goods design. In 2011, he became an associate to Frida Giannini who held the position of creative director at the time before Michele was appointed in 2015.

“We are all Dr. Frankenstein of our lives. Inventing, assembling, experimenting [with clothes] which can accompany you while you develop an idea of yourself.”

—Alessandro Michele on Gucci’s 2018 Fall Milan fashion week show

One of the keys to Michele’s success at Gucci is repeating motifs and having consistency through the collections. Fashion editors have complained about Michele’s repetition, but that hasn’t slowed Gucci’s success as Ana Andjelic says, “when consumers are tired of it, that’s going to be the end. When editors are tired, who gives a shit?” Fortunately for Gucci, it doesn’t seem like consumers are going to be getting tired of its merchandise any time soon.

To put Michele’s success at Gucci in numbers, his collections have garnered more than 25 million views on vogue.com, with his most popular being the Spring 2016 collection, with over 8 million clicks. During the 2016 fiscal year, Gucci’s sales increased by 43.4% and in the first half of 2017, had an operating profit of 907 million euros. Michele has also won numerous awards including the International Designer Award by the British Fashion Council in 2015, and in 2016 he won the International Award by the CFDA ‘for his creative contribution to the international fashion stage,’ as well as the British GQ Designer of the Year Award.

For most, deciding to make a purchase from a high-end designer brand such as Gucci takes planning, as items cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. When making that decision, consumers want to feel reassured that the investment that they’re making will be worthwhile and the piece they purchase won’t be out of style in a matter of months, which often happens with more extravagant brands, patterns, and styles. Michele has mastered the art of making Gucci’s consumers feel like their investment in his designs and products are worth it by keeping several classic designs but having them in different colors, patterns, and sizes to appeal to a wide range of tastes.

“It feels like the collections have a sense of longevity. It feels like you are investing in pieces, and you know that they’re still going to be relevant in one, or two or three seasons time, because that’s the perspective the designer is taking.”

—Lisa Aiken, Fashion Retail Director at Net-a-Porter

We are living in a world where uncertainty is growing every day. Political volatility, violence, climate change, poverty, and war create instability in our daily lives and fashion is a way of expressing our feelings. Michele has been able to cater to the need of Gucci’s consumers to feel a sense of stability by creating collections with similar aesthetics.

The similarity in his designs has also made Gucci more recognizable. For example, he re-designed the classic Gucci loafer and introduced the ‘Princetown’ shoe which has been an enormous success. Here in Paris, it’s almost impossible to go a single day without seeing someone wearing some version of the Princetown.  

Will other creative directors and brands follow Michele’s example of keeping what works rather than trying to change things up? It will be interesting to keep an eye on the next few seasons to see how fashion continues to evolve. For now, cheers to Alessandro Michele and Gucci’s truly enormous success.