Alessandro Michele is relinquishing his role as the creative director of Gucci. The French group Kering, which owns Gucci among other luxury brands, announced his departure on Wednesday. Michele has held the role since 2015.
In a statement, Kering’s chair and chief executive, François-Henri Pinault, thanked Michele for his seven-year tenure. “His passion, his imagination, his ingenuity and his culture put Gucci centre stage, where its place is,” he said.
Kering has not revealed who will succeed Michele, who left with immediate effect.
Championed by Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri, Michele’s appointment from head of accessories to creative director in 2015 came as a shock to the fashion industry. However, he quickly helped to drive a period of strong growth and reignited excitement around the luxury Italian fashion house.
Revenue at Gucci almost trippled during his time in the role, from €3.9bn in 2015 to €9.7bn in 2021. At times, quarterly growth rates approached 50%. With an appreciation of the history of the Italian house, Michele fused heritage Gucci signatures with a more modern aesthetic.
His gender-fluid approach (since 2017, Gucci has presented men’s and women’s collections together) and use of an eclectic cacophony of prints, colours and textures garnered a new generation of younger consumers in Europe, the US and China. Loafers with furry linings featuring horse-bit hardware and cross-body bags adorned with the double G logo quickly went viral.
During his reign he attracted legions of celebrity fans, including Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Billie Eilish, Dakota Johnson and Jodie Turner-Smith.
However, since 2017 the pace of revenue growth had been steadily declining. In October 2021 it was revealed sales grew by 3.8% in the third quarter, below analyst expectations. Insiders blamed brand fatigue alongside the effect of the pandemic, especially in core markets such as Asia.
Compared with other luxury rivals, including LVMH and Hermès, Kering shares have underperformed.
Efforts by Gucci to combat this decline included reducing its yearly show schedule, axing its annual cruise and pre-autumn collections. The fashion house also embarked on a series of collaborations with unexpected brands such as Adidas and a “Hacker Project” with Balenciaga.
In 2017, Harry Styles was named as a Gucci ambassador. He appeared in several campaigns and just this month released a collaborative collection entitled Ha Ha Ha.