On the short term, the departure of Alessandro Michele from Gucci has had a negative impact on the performance of the brand, with sales down 17%. Michele has been replaced by little-known designers Sabato de Sarno especially at a time Gucci is in a deep creative crisis. Reaching once again the same excitement and desirability which Michele generated at Gucci will be very tough, if not, almost impossible, for de Sarno. There was a Michele ”cult” at Gucci!
It is unclear what the actual financials are for Off-White after the passing of Virgil Abloh, but it is obvious the brand has been losing steam. To a certain extent, in such cases, it is normal that some customers would ”give up” on the brand or simply just move on. But how far will this go? Will the brand survive in the long term without Abloh? Unless a very powerful creative head will be appointed, Off-White risks to become repetitive and lacklustre.
As for Riccardo Tisci (ex Burberry), many are voicing that Daniel Lee (ex Bottega Veneta), who replaced him at Burberry, will have very big shoes to fill. Tisci’s ”grand exit” from Burberry came earlier this month when British Vogue unveiled a spectacular editorial and cover featuring Rihanna and her baby. Tisci, who had always exerted a sense of ‘Britishness’, also had a very powerful networking among media, celebrities etc – which cannot be ”replaced”.
According to several sources, since Tom Ford was acquired by Estee Lauder and Tom Ford exited from his role as Creative Director of his eponymous brand, sales of apparel and accessories dropped at least 20%. Similarly to Gucci, Tom Ford fans and consumers have ”moved-on”, many are no longer even following the two brands on social media. Many argue that, Tom Ford has been irreplaceable at his eponymous brand. Tom Ford is not a brand to be ”licensed” especially since its founder is still alive.
But what will happen now that Louis Vuitton has decided to appoint Pharrell to succeed Virgil Abloh? What will happen once the brand seems to be moving on and showing, in a way, that Virgil Abloh was also replaceable. Is a possible wave of nostalgia going to impact the desirability of the brand? Pharrell is a respected figure and a great socialite, but none of his projects came even close to the calibre of Virgil Abloh. Pharrell used to do well as a collaborator at Chanel with small projects – the brand has never had a menswear line.
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