All eyes are on Gucci as the luxury label continues to shine bright. Just hours before Kering, the brand’s parent company, posted a 49.4 percent sales increase in the third quarter, CEO Marco Bizzarri talked with Footwear News about the brand’s soaring success.
During the interview, conducted in connection with a larger piece about Titan Industries CEO Joe Ouaknine, Bizzarri opened up about his management style, choosing Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele and the brand’s recent accomplishments.
Here are five key takeaways:
1. Alessandro Michele is a hidden treasure.
The brand’s creative director, appointed by Bizzarri in January 2015, has exceeded expectations ever since.
“He is doing 1,000 times more than what I was expecting,” Bizzari said. “Why? Because he was a hidden treasure at Gucci. He was here for 12 years in the company, and nobody saw it,” Bizzarri added. “When I decided to go with Alessandro, the first reason was I had a human connection with him. I thought he was talented. If you are able as a CEO to protect these guys, to make sure they are supported and they don’t feel threatened, they blossom just like Alessandro.”
2. Success starts with creativity.
“You need to start with creativity. If you have the right creative people, making the business around it is very easy. If you don’t, then you’re going to have a problem with the business. The two things work perfectly together. It doesn’t start with numbers. The world is so crowded, so you have to find what you want to stand for and for what. The idea of the creative director fighting with the CEO is finished — finito,” he said. “Creativity needs to be protected. You cannot foster creativity if you’re threatened.”
3. Gucci’s 10-year sustainability plan is much bigger than going sans fur.
Last month during the fourth edition of the Kering Talk at the London College of Fashion, Bizzarri announced that Gucci will be joining the fur-free alliance, along releasing the company’s 1o-year “Culture of Purpose” sustainability plan.
Commenting on reactions to the news, Bizzarri said, “The consumer underestimated the real announcement in that specific moment. We announced the 10-year plan in terms of cultural purpose. So reducing the impact we have on the planet, the communities, the new model that we want to take to [create] this impact — that for me is much [more] important and impactful than the one with the fur.”
He added, “But I know the fur is something touchy and more emotional in terms of announcement than the rest. The fur is something that is a situation everybody is attached to because it’s more visible. But in reality, the kind of impact we are going to have in the next 10 years at Gucci is going to be much more important.”
4. The brand thrives on young talent.
“The role of the leaders going forward is more about inspiration and getting everyone together to talk the same language and to respect each other. Especially in fashion, it’s all about creativity and emotion,” he said. “The role of the business is to make sure that we create this emotional side. [To do that], you have to have people [who] respect diversity, they are inclusive and they foster passion and curiosity. You cannot kill people [who] make mistakes. You need to be willing to allow people to take risks because to learn is not like the past. The more you’re able to scout the younger talent and the more they get rewarded for what they propose, the more it’s going to work.”
5. There’s no negativity at Gucci.
“Someone told me once that I need to reduce the pace of growth because next year is going to be a problem,” Bizzarri said. “At the end of the day, I need to enjoy the trip. I can’t be negative when things are bad and negative when things are good. If I’m doing all the things that I’m able to do, maybe tomorrow will be better than today. And I’m not worried about tomorrow at all.”
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