If Alessandro Michele’s job was to reinvigorate Gucci for the millennial Instagram generation, Sabato de Sarno’s challenge is to translate it for Gen Z TikTokers.
The former Valentino designer has been revealed as the brand’s new creative director. Although he has big shoes to fill, the contrived eccentricity of Michele’s Gucci – which played so well on Instagram – has not had the same ripple effect on TikTok. Those layered looks of pattern, print and colour simply do not square with the laissez-fair style that has gained cut-through with Gen Z. And so, a new era of Gucci is upon us.
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While he has to be radically different to Michele, de Sarno should consider following his genius business model: creating a product desired by every influencer worth their salt. Give the youth generation a way to participate in the brand and a reason to.
For Michele, this product was the Gucci belt that seemed to be on every influencer’s Instagram page from 2015 to 2018. It began as a staple for luxury fashion bloggers, and ended up in the street style shots and selfies of every aspirational micro-influencer. The belt was a million miles away from those beautifully tailored suits made with archive prints, but it let everyone feel like they could join in.
Over on TikTok, other luxury brands seem to have felt the mood shift as Gen Z has come to the fore. Louis Vuitton has sponsored creator-hosted “secret Santa” parties while its relaxed tailoring and simple prints have proven to be relevant for the youth market. Meanwhile, Valentino’s “2022 recap” was hosted by dynamic after effects editor Jesse Chriss. Also, it created a new shade of pink, labelled “iconic” by its TikTok audience.
@lythancottaz passe dans notre boutique de Saint-Honoré pour essayer #ValentinoAfterClub
So, where does Gucci go? Towards the one thing that TikTok reliably loves: the underdog. The quirky creators who have niche hobbies and represent what Gen Z truly is – a demographic defined by the individualism of what they do rather than what they wear. It is less about unique aesthetics (this much is clear in the proliferation of Y2K) and more about the personality the creator brings to the table. Understanding this will allow Gucci to partner with talent who have undeniable cut through, making it relevant to this youth generation in a whole new way.
By Sara McCorquodale, CEO and founder of CORQ. Picture credit: Gucci via Instagram.