PARIS (Reuters) – Alessandro Michele, the extravagant designer favorite of Harry Styles and Lady Gaga, has abruptly left Gucci, according to the owner of Kering (PRTP.PA). Kering (PRTP.PA) puts pressure on owners Revenue growth at the Italian fashion house.
The news that the creative director has resigned for the first time in seven years comes as Kering seeks to reinvigorate the label, which accounted for two-thirds of its parent company’s profits last year, ahead of a lucrative holiday shopping season.
In announcing his resignation Wednesday, Michele cited “the different perspectives that each of us may have.”
François-Henri Pinault, president and CEO of Kering, called the designer’s tenure a “highlighting moment” in Gucci’s history. He did not name a successor.
With no clear successor, Michele’s departure has created a void that the label must fill quickly, analysts say.
“This calls into question some of our views on the performance and evolution of the brand in the coming months, and accelerates the momentum of the brand,” JP Morgan analyst Chiara Battitini said Thursday in a note. research. More uncertainty remains about the timing of the decision. ,” he said.
Jefferies analysts say Michele’s departure is “more than the departure of one of the most iconic designers of the last decade” and points to a possible “deeper rethink” of the Kering label. .
Now the next step will be more difficult,” they added.
With a market capitalization of more than 66 billion euros, Kering shares have lagged behind their competitors in recent years. It has lost a quarter of its value this year.
Michele, who turned 50 on Friday, has reinvigorated the brand with quirky, gender-bending styles that are popular with younger shoppers.
Early hits were fur-lined loafers embellished with signature horse bits for over $1,000 and double-tiger-headed chain-chain Dionysus handbags in mini sizes starting at $900.
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After being promoted as an accessories designer in 2015, he helped grow profits, which quadrupled in 2019 when revenue rose from less than €4 billion to almost €10 billion.
Growth has slowed in recent years, but rivals such as Dior and Louis Vuitton, owned by rival luxury group LVMH (LVMH.PA), are ahead.
LVMH’s fashion and leather goods division rose 22% in the third quarter, while Gucci’s 9% rise fell short of market expectations and some analysts said designers’ appetite for style had weakened. .
They questioned the medium-term annual sales target of 15 billion euros set in June.
The brand has also been affected by the COVID-19 lockdown in China, where it has a large network of stores and is better known than other big brands.
Barclays estimates that China accounts for around 35% of Gucci’s annual sales, compared with 27% for LVMH’s fashion and leather division and 26% for Hermès.
high speed movement
Time is not on the side of legendary labels.
While making such a drastic change is positive, “it could take up to a year before we see the results of the cosmetic change,” UBS said, citing design and production timelines.
Industry watchers say there is a large pool of potential creative directors, from well-known designers to relatively unknown designers who, like Michele, can bring input from within.
The new director will either give the brand a completely new direction with a ‘clean slate’ approach, as Demna Gvasalia did at Balenciaga, or build on the direction of previous designers such as Anthony Vaccarello, head of the new French federation brand. Fashion. FHCM.
“You can leave things as they are for a while and take a break for a year or so,” he said. Existing teams can continue to design collections, as the Louis Vuitton men’s team did after the death of designer Virgil Abloh last year.
However, given the strength of Michele’s aesthetic and brand identity, the repositioning could mean a “revolution.”