Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Gucci: How Bitchy Can You Get?

If you are looking for an example of just how damn bitchy the fashion industry can get (not saying that other businesses aren't equally bitchy, just that they're much more anal about hiding their dirty laundry), check out this piece of news from the International Tribune on a recently released book on all things Gucci:

Tom Ford, architect of Gucci's revival as a jet set brand, before he left the company two years ago, does not appear in "Gucci by Gucci," the magnificent leather-encased tome of glamorama photographs brought out to celebrate 85 star-studded years.

And then, even funnier, the Tribune goes on to defend the exlucsion:

And maybe that is as it should be. For Gucci's subsequent success--a 21 per cent increase in sales was posted for the first half of 2006--underlines a truth. Selling luxury today is all about not who designs the products, but managing the brand.

Too funny! The guy was with the company for 14 years and a well-respected newspaper, which, I guess, has journalistic standards, is arguing that, hey, maybe it's okay that the man responsible for resuscitating a dead brand be treated as though he never existed. So okay, the brand has grown even more since Ford left, but how does that negate his contributions?

Oh and by the way, for everyone who obsesses over the runways and upholds high-fashion labels like Gucci as the gods of fashion, this little quote does a good job of somewhat pulling back the curtain on what coutoure is reall about:

Even though the signature canvas bags are still the brand base, accounting for 70 percent of sales, the 30 percent of leather goods is on the rise.

Gucci's rivals have sneered that canvas bags smothered in florals were leaving luxury behind and entering Coach territory--meaning the American brand that has had a huge success in a medium price range. But Lee says his strategy is the opposite of aiming to create €300 bags in China and that he is "totally focused" on high-end goods made in Italy.

For all its powerful fashion pictures of smudgy-eyed decadents in sexy clothes that polished Gucci's tarnished image in the 1990s, the brand was and is driven by leather goods and shoes. "Leather goods are our history," says Lee, but he cites other categories where he perceives future growth. One is ready-to-wear (currently about 15 per cent of the business) but growing fast with a 29 percent increase so far this year.

In other words, Gucci's runway show is basically a very expensive device used to position a bunch of made-in-China canvas bags.

Isn't high fashion hysterical?

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