Fractured fashion: Now Gucci shakes things up

Gucci menswear

Gucci’s menswear – with a strong feminine edge

So Gucci is unifying its men’s and women’s main season shows and the fashion world is running around like (very stylish) headless chickens as a result.

Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri, said: “Alessandro Michele has in fact always presented his men’s and women’s collections together, so this is a very natural progression. Moving to one show each season will significantly help to simplify many aspects of our business. Maintaining two separate, disconnected calendars has been a result of tradition rather than practicality.”

Is it really big news? Well, yes, But than again, no. To be honest, since the moment Alessandro Michele sent out his first put-together-in-five-days men’s collection in January 2015, the link between the Gucci men’s and women’s offer has been closer than ever.

All those lace blouses, pussy-bow necklines, rich patterns and slim-cut coats looked (to me) more like womenswear than menswear. In fact, for the trend forecasting company where I worked at the time, we got our catwalks editor to write a 10 Takeaways From The Men’s Shows for Womenswear Designers piece as it seemed there was more for women to like from that season’s men’s collections.

Perhaps Michele was just admitting what we all knew about the men’s shows – they’re either full of beautiful but commercial and a little dull clothes that don’t made good social media posts. Or they’re OTT and frankly unwearable by all but a very tiny percentage of men.

But what was also important is that stylistically, Gucci men’s and women’s are two sides of the same coin and separating the big reveal for each collection, sometimes by up to three months, is crazy.

Not so revolutionary?

gucci favourites

Gucci AW16, pictures courtesy Vogue Runway

Gucci’s move is interesting, but not a revolution. A number of designers already show both men’s and women’s collections together, either main season or a combination of seasons. Prada for instance, neatly slips its women’s pre-collections into its main season men’s show as the timing is just perfect.

The men’s and women’s merger is also sensible as far as creating a single, powerful, newsworthy event is concerned.

We have to take into account the simple fact that the men’s shows in January and June really are less of a draw than the women’s shows for the world outside the fashion industry. They’re also less of a traditional media/social media ‘event’ (unless of course something happens to get the media excited like JW Anderson live-streaming his show on Grindr).

What does it all mean?

There are several points I find most interesting about Kering’s announcement today.

One is that it’s still committing itself to the concept of “see now, buy later”. The ISN’T a Burberry-style move into insta-fashion.

Another is that it’s still deciding when exactly it will show its combined collections. Previously it was menswear in January followed by womenswear in February then menswear in June followed by a much bigger gap before we saw womenswear in September. And don’t forget women’s pre-collections that appeared some in May, or maybe June, and December.

That’s one crazy, mixed-up calendar as you can see and answering the “when” question won’t be easy. The easiest step would be to go for the regular womenswear dates. But Gucci might want to shake things up a bit and go for a standalone timing, with perhaps buyers (and VIP press) being shown the collections at different times to fit their buying schedules.

What it all boils down to is a more fractured designer level fashion model. We have brands like Gucci committing to showing advance collections and avoid insta-fashion but combining genders. We have other brands like Burberry and Hilfiger preparing to follow the “see now, buy now” route but still offering ‘seasonal’ advance collections for buyers. Then others (like Versus and Moschino) are going all out for insta-fashion. Others, of course, are sedately rising above it all and sticking to tradition. And don’t forget couture – Hedi Slimane showed couture for Saint Laurent during ready-to-wear week in Paris. Will Anthony Vaccarello do the same?

One thing is certain, there are no certainties any more. Maybe we should all just hide in the bathroom like the models in Gucci’s pre-season ad campaign until it’s all over!

gucci ss16 ad 6

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