Gucci, one of the most iconic and influential luxury brands in the world, has announced some major changes in its design and management structure. The brand has appointed Sabato De Sarno as its new creative director, succeeding Alessandro Michele, who left the company last November. De Sarno will present his first collection for Gucci in September 2023.
De Sarno joins Gucci from Valentino, where he was the fashion director overseeing both men’s and women’s collections. He started his career at Prada in 2005, then moved to Dolce & Gabbana, before joining Valentino in 2009. He is credited with creating the VLTN logo for Valentino and has a strong expertise in menswear and knitwear.
Gucci has also revealed that its longtime president and CEO Marco Bizzarri will exit the brand after the spring 2024 show in Milan. Bizzarri has been instrumental in boosting Gucci’s growth and profitability since he joined in 2015. He will be succeeded by Jean-François Palus, the managing director of Kering, Gucci’s parent company, on an interim basis.
Kering, which also owns brands such as Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, and Alexander McQueen, has said that it will begin the search for a permanent Gucci CEO in September or October 2023. The group is open to candidates from outside the luxury sector. Some sources have speculated that Francesca Bellettini, the president and CEO of Yves Saint Laurent, will eventually be appointed to helm Gucci.
A New Phase for Gucci’s Growth and Innovation
The changes in Gucci’s leadership come at a time when the brand is facing some challenges in maintaining its momentum and market share. Gucci reported sales of 10.5 billion euros in 2022, up from 9.73 billion euros in 2021, but below analysts’ expectations. The brand also lagged behind its peers in terms of like-for-like sales growth, posting a 1 percent increase in the second quarter of 2023.
François-Henri Pinault, the chairman and CEO of Kering, has said that “the top priority is to restore the momentum of the top line of Gucci” and expressed his confidence that the brand will reach its medium-term revenue target of 15 billion euros. He has identified some areas for improvement, such as product quality, supply chain agility, and luxury positioning.
Pinault has also said that he is looking to elevate the luxury quotient of Gucci by creating a more structured organization that is headed by a creative director, but not one that hinges around a star persona. Instead, the creative director will supervise key designers overseeing the different categories, from beauty to fashion to jewelry. This is a departure from the previous model, where Michele had a hands-on approach and a strong personal vision for the brand.
A Commitment to Education and Sustainability
Gucci’s new design and management strategy is also accompanied by a commitment to support education and sustainability initiatives. The brand has recently renewed its partnership with Polimoda, a Florence-based fashion and design school, to launch a master’s course in fashion retail and omnichannel management. The two-year course will provide students with skills and knowledge in areas such as digital marketing, e-commerce, customer experience, and data analysis.
Gucci has also linked with the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia to offer a master’s course in data science applied to business management. The course will combine education in statistics, econometrics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence with business studies in marketing, finance, human resources, and innovation. The course will also include internships at Gucci or other Kering brands.
In addition to education, Gucci has also been a leader in sustainability within the luxury industry. The brand has achieved carbon neutrality across its own operations and supply chain since 2018 and has committed to reducing its environmental impact by 50 percent by 2025. Gucci has also launched several initiatives to promote circularity and social responsibility, such as Gucci Equilibrium, Gucci Up, Gucci Off The Grid, and Gucci Changemakers.