Giorgio Gucci
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alessandro michelethe creative director who made Gucci a successful brand among the younger generations, is leaving the Italian brand.

Kering SA, owner of the brand, announced that Michele will leave the position in a statement published on Wednesday. Gucci’s design office will oversee the brand’s direction until a new creative organization is announced, the company said.

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“There are times when our paths part due to the different perspectives each of us may have,” Michele said in the statement. “Today ends for me an extraordinary journey, of more than twenty years, within a company to which I have tirelessly dedicated all my love and creative passion”.

Who is Alessandro Michele?

Michele, 49, has helped build the Florence, Italy-based brand into a fashion giant since assuming creative leadership in early 2015.

Gucci is three times bigger that when CEO Marco Bizzarri “took a smart bet on the hitherto unknown name and put it at the helm of the dominant Kering brand,” Flavio Cereda, an analyst at Jefferies, wrote in a note. “The next step is necessarily more complicated now,” with questions about the successor.

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Will the designer be an internal versus external replacement, will there be a split and will there be more leadership changes, especially in a time of volatile demand? Cereda asked. Gucci’s ambition to reach €15 billion ($15.6 billion) medium-term sales which means by about 2027, seems “more and more out of reach,” he added.

How was the fashion that Michele raised in Gucci

Michele’s fashion, recognizable by its extravagant and bohemian designs, It has been worn by celebrities such as Jared Leto, Harry Styles, and Florence Welch. Under him, Gucci also participated in collaborations with other brands and companies, notably Adidas AG and North Face Inc.

Yet despite some progress, Gucci’s growth has lagged rival brands since the lifting of most Covid-19 restrictions, including fellow Kering brand Yves Saint Laurent and the unit fashion and leather from LVMH, led by Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior.

The brand is particularly exposed to China, which has been slower to ease the pandemic rules due to its zero-covid approach. Earlier this year, Gucci appointed a former Tiffany & Co. executive, Laurent Cathala, to head the fashion unit in China and Hong Kong. Kering’s chief financial officer, Jean-Marc Duplaix, told investors last month that Cathala may not be able to turn around performance overnight and that the goal of increasing sales there was long-term.

Giorgio Gucci

Michele slowed down the pace of creation when the pandemic hit, releasing fewer collections and fewer new designs. The brand plans to return to six collections next year, Duplaix said last month. In addition, Gucci wants to further develop the menswear and travel categories, he said at the time.

Before the announcement of Michele’s departure, Gucci had announced that he would be backed by a “studio director”, who would help him for the main collection, without ever identifying that person.

“It may be time for a change,” RBC Europe Ltd. analyst Piral Dadhania wrote in a note to clients. The position at Gucci requires a designer willing to focus on the brand’s archives and rebuild its heritage, he added.

Some history of the Gucci brand

gucci’se founded in Florence in 1921 as a manufacturer of luggage and other leather goods, and during the following decades it expanded to Italy, Europe and the United States. In 1999, Pinault Printemps Redoute, as Kering was previously known, bought a 42% stake and subsequently acquired it outright.

The acquisition of the Italian brand accentuated the rivalry between François Pinault, the founder of Kering, and French luxury magnate Bernard Arnault, founder of LVMH.

Michele’s departure follows the surprise departure of Daniel Lee a year ago from Bottega Veneta, another Kering brand. Lee left for undisclosed reasons after a successful career and recently joined Burberry Group Plc, where he is due to launch his first rainwear collection in January.

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