In lieu of my regular “Brand of the Month”, I’ve decided to feature inspirational individuals during these unprecedented times. This “Inspiration of the Month” goes to…
The Coronavirus has shaken a lot of industries, but Alessandro Michele, creative director of fashion powerhouse Gucci, is doing the shaking from the inside.
The pandemic has brought the non-stop carousel of the fashion world to a screeching halt. While the industry waits to resume its seamless rotation of spring/summer, autumn/winter, cruise and pre-fall shows, Michele has other plans for Gucci. In a recent virtual press conference, he announced that he will be limiting the number of fashion shows going forward, from five to two per year. Gucci will be stepping off of the carousel.
What I find interesting (and inspirational) here is the power of pause during the pandemic and its influence in this. In our Survive to Thrive Toolkit, Part II, we recently explored ways in which the pandemic offers us an opportunity to pause and examine our experience, to see what we can learn from these extraordinary times. What comes to the surface might just have the potential to bring about significant change.
We see exactly this in Michele’s “Notes from the Silence” entry, posted on Instagram on 29th March. In the post, he reveals doing a fair amount of reflecting during the lockdown, and this is starting to translate into radical action. Michele has come out in support of moving towards a leaner, more sustainable fashion culture, and his passion and purpose shine through in this post (and I personally love that Michele’s proclivity to flowery maximalism extends beyond his bold creations, what consistent branding!):
View this post on Instagram
1/6 • “We could never have imagined to feel so connected to life through a bond of trembling and heartbreaking tenderness. We could never have thought to reconnect, so deeply, with the fragility of our creatural destiny. Our need for reciprocity. We turned out to be so small. A miracle of nothing,” We Turned Out to be So Small, March 29, 2020. @alessandro_michele wrote a diary in these months, ‘Notes from the Silence’. #AlessandroMichele. Read the diary entries through link in bio.
Michele has declared the fashion week calendar and labels like “Spring/summer” obsolete, stating “I think these are stale and underfed words … clothes should have a longer life than that which these words attribute to them.” Instead, Gucci will have “seasonless” collections twice a year.
The label will therefore be glaringly absent from the September catwalk, where it would have been a crown jewel of fashion week. Similarly, Saint Laurent, also owned by the Kering parent company, recently announced it would sit out Paris fashion week this September, as they are “conscious of the current circumstances and its waves of radical change”. Dries Van Noten has also led a number of independent designers in calling for an “overhaul of the industry”, with less shows and product.
While talk of drastic changes to the fashion industry have been going on for the past month, mega-labels have remained mostly silent…until now. As Gucci is the mightiest brand to come to the table, Michele’s announcement packs quite a punch, with real potential to create a sea change within the industry.
Michele has created a strong name for himself in the fashion world by bringing edgy culture into fashion and embracing gender fluidity (think the Harry Styles in pearl earrings and ruffles and the actor Jared Leto in a floor-length evening gown at the Met Gala). However, influencing sustainable development in the fashion world may just be his greatest contribution yet.