I thought Gucci maxed out on runway surprises when it accessorized fall dresses with severed heads. I was wrong: In a curveball announcement on Instagram, Gucci said the brand will cut its runway presence in half in response to COVID-19.
- Gucci will only hold two fashion shows per year, down from five, when changes take effect.
- It will permanently combine men’s and women’s collections into one gender fluid presentation.
Gucci is the first luxury brand to formally commit to a two shows/year schedule—and it won’t be the last. Its influence could lead others to follow: Valued at nearly $16 billion, Gucci’s considered the crown jewel in conglomerate Kering’s designer empire.
Who’s next? Luxury brands including Saint Laurent and Giorgio Armani have floated culling their fashion calendars in the pandemic’s wake. In strongly worded letters last week, major trade groups also suggested designers cap their collections at two/year.
This outfit’s got layers
Gucci christened its runway renovation “a new path” in fashion “to leave behind the paraphernalia of leitmotifs that colonized our prior world.” I call it a practical move for…
- Sustainability. Travel attributed to fashion week emits around 241,000 tons of CO2 emissions/year. Gucci and Kering previously kickstarted luxury fashion’s trend toward carbon neutrality; limiting fashion shows will also reduce emissions.
- Merchandising. Novelty bags released for resort shows are some of the first to get discounted or handed off to resellers. Fewer collections could strengthen brand equity.
Looking ahead…if luxury brands follow Gucci’s lamé suit, the fashion wholesale experience will likely shift as well. Department stores (provided they still exist) can cut expensive travel from their buying teams’ budgets. Stores will have fewer designer SKUs to choose from, reinforcing the exclusive vibe luxury brands strive for.
My takeaway: In a five show/year system, brands gained popularity by spending millions on Instagram-bait presentations in far-flung locales. With a shortened schedule, the industry may reshuffle in favor of the brands with superior products.