Can Gucci make people fall in love with fashion again?

In recent years, there has been a popular saying in the fashion industry that if it were the current fashion industry, one might not want to enter.


Fashion seems to have lost its charm, even for practitioners. The industry crisis was always ignored until the macro market cooled down, and fundamental problems emerged one after another.


On the one hand, the weak creativity of luxury goods, and on the other hand, luxury consumption has become a game of comparison, with brands ignoring the emotional value supply of consumers. Simply put, high-end fashion cannot make people happy anymore.


The newly appointed creative director of Gucci, Sabato De Sarno, introduced a key concept called “Ancora” in his debut series, the 2024 Spring/Summer series.


Ancora in Italian means “again, still, more”. According to the brand’s official statement, this is a vision of “falling in love with fashion again”, just like the continuous pursuit of love, conveying a promise to regain the charm of fashion. Sensibility, as a beautiful, free, and confident attitude, has become the main theme of this series, inviting everyone to embrace unique emotions inspired by fashion and praising diverse humanistic expressions.


It must be admitted that in my debut in September last year, I did not quickly understand Gucci Ancora’s intentions. Compared to the strong signals that brand innovation often carries, the meaning of Gucci Ancora can be said to be very abstract. More people understand Gucci’s new chapter from the perspective of fashion style changes, summarizing this change as a transition from extreme complexity to minimalist classics.


But as Gucci repeatedly emphasized Ancora in various media, a wave of curiosity couldn’t help but rise, and people unconsciously pondered what exactly Ancora was and what the new creative director wanted to tell everyone? When a brand needs to rediscover its audience, the most important thing is to arouse their curiosity before they are pleasantly surprised.


Accompanied by Sabato De Sarno’s first official trip to China, Gucci Ancora arrived in China this Monday evening.

Four city linkage. Gucci has simultaneously launched the “Gucci Ancora Red” offline space in Shanghai, Chengdu, Beijing, and Shenzhen. When the 2024 Spring/Summer series is launched, it will be located in Shanghai Zhangyuan, Chengdu Taikoo Li and Chengdu SKP, Shenzhen Bay MixC, as well as the offline space in Beijing Sanlitun Taikoo Li and Beijing SKP. In addition to showcasing the new series up close to the audience, it also integrates contemporary art and music forms, creating a comprehensive experience. In addition, Hong Kong and Taipei in China also launched the “Gucci Ancora” tour last week.


This is Zhang Yuan in Shanghai, where a series of art works and fashion collections are presented together. This is a special project “Gucci Prospective: Shanghai Ancora” created by Gucci for Shanghai after launching the “Gucci Prospective” series of art books since September last year. It was planned by X Zhu Nowell, the artistic director of the Shanghai Bund Art Museum, and presents the diverse interpretations of the present by artists from different generations, with Shanghai as the iconic city as the theme.


On the other hand, in Chengdu, art space exhibitions and live music parties were held simultaneously, and the live performances of guests such as Guo Caijie showcased the vitality of Chengdu’s urban character. In Beijing and Shenzhen, Gucci highlighted the former’s historical heritage and the latter’s technological innovation, respectively.

However, across the four regions, the commonalities of this themed event are evident: firstly, the iconic Gucci Ankara red, and secondly, the connection between fashion, art, and music, with the aim of engaging in an emotional dialogue with contemporary culture, writing emotions and inspirations that are contemporary.


If the previous “emotions” were still somewhat elusive for many people, including myself, then starting from Monday night, when Sabato De Sarno was intimately immersed in a space shrouded in red lights with brand ambassadors, brand friends, and numerous VIC guests, and fashion, music, and art reached the depths of my senses in a form that spanned all four cities simultaneously, I seemed to finally experience Ancora firsthand.


Embrace intimacy and love, once again, and more.


The urban touring style of flash spaces is not uncommon, but the simultaneous occurrence of four cities creates a strong momentum. Its influence is not four times that of a single event, but rather an exponential explosion, allowing everyone to share the same “present.”. In addition to the audience participating in offline space activities, there is also a carnival online. According to Fashion Business News, as of now, # GucciAncora has read 980 million Weibo topics, and within a day, there are over 50 hot searches related to Gucci Ancora on Weibo.


More importantly, there is nothing more infectious than the scene of Sabato De Sarno dancing to the music on the dance floor, and many people witnessed this moment that night.


He clearly chose a challenging but long tail effect path, and what he needs to personally promote is not concrete style and products, but an emotion and value.

The optimistic emotions brought about by interpersonal relationships cannot be expressed in words, but can only be felt in reality. Its initial development may have been relatively slow, as there is a paradox behind it that the connection between people cannot be fully understood until they are successfully connected.


So Gucci needs to put in some clumsy effort to bring a whole new set of brand assets to the audience, just like a roadshow, introducing the new Gucci to the market. In addition to Shanghai, during the launch of the 2024 Spring/Summer series, Gucci also planned a series of events in major cities around the world such as New York, running through February and March, attempting to capture the pulse of real-time emotions through immersive experiences.


However, the effectiveness of this “clumsy effort” cannot be compared to the mass communication that has weakened individual experiences in the past. This means that the brand has established a deep experience with consumers, rather than a superficial and highly substitutable connection.


Taking an perhaps inappropriate example, when people press the “follow” button on social media, it does not necessarily mean they become fans of anyone. When many brands care about how much “follow” there is, Sabato De Sarno is more focused on winning “fans”.


Although the business logic of modern luxury goods seems to be using brand power to sell handbags to consumers, Sabato De Sarno at least focuses on whether people are happy or not before the brand tries to sell the first bag to consumers.


Happiness is the new luxury, and I am amazed to find that this is Sabato De Sarno’s undisclosed core declaration.


The emotional marketing of offline activities is complementary to the penetration of color marketing into the subconscious. It is reported that Gucci Ankara Red not only appears in the space, but also integrates into the lifestyle of urban residents nearby, appearing in the form of outdoor billboards, newsstands, and other forms in people’s vision.


The brand believes that this unique color represents the passionate emotions between people, where the crowd and community become the protagonists in Gucci’s narrative, enjoying fashion, art, and music.

Of course, Ankara Red is not groundless for Gucci. The inspiration comes from Gucci’s first Jackie handbag, which features a black exterior and a striking red lining, echoing the brand’s rich history. Ankara red represents the starting point, just as people should remember their original intention to love fashion, fashion should also mean real happiness and connection.


After a slow accumulation in the early stages, the contagion of emotions will increase exponentially. Ancora achieves the transmission of positive emotions through repeated repetition and recitation, which is also the mission of the word.


After the event on Monday night, Sabato De Sarno immediately participated in a special symposium held at Donghua University the next day, where she had an exchange with students from the fields of fashion innovation, fashion interior design, and fashion and art design. He collaborated with Zhu Xiaorui, the Art Director of the Bund Art Museum, and Li Jun, the Dean of the School of International Fashion and Creativity at Donghua University, to discuss topics such as fashion, design, art, and culture. Zhang Yu, investment partner of Sequoia China and founding editor of Vogue Clothing and Beauty, served as the host.

The symposium also specially screened the documentary short film “Who Is Sabato De Sarno? A Gucci Story” in advance, which was officially released on March 15th and revealed for the first time the front and back scenes of Sabato De Sarno’s first fashion show for Gucci.


It is worth noting that this film showcases Sabato De Sarno’s three-dimensional personal lifestyle through unexpected, humorous editing. This also breaks the narrative style of fashion documentaries that used to have a sense of distance, as well as the stereotypical image of a serious and socially fearful creative director.


At this moment, I thought of the popular Chinese word “living person” in the recent context, which refers to those celebrities who have become popular but remain authentic.


In fact, the fashion industry also needs a “living” creative director. They enjoy their jobs and are not constrained by the luxury goods business system. They can perform better under normal pressure, but they don’t have to be constantly criticized. The mechanism should protect their creativity, rather than pushing them to the wind and making them the blame for all mistakes.


After disenchantment becomes a common spiritual state in contemporary society, people will resonate more with the living.


You can see that blogger Yuyuzhangzou, who shuttles through various fashion events and wears the brand’s latest fashion, is truly excited about Sabato De Sarno’s new Gucci. She not only happily stated on social media that these clothes are her own wardrobe, but also expressed her curiosity about fabrics to Sabato De Sarno at the symposium. The reason why those seemingly ordinary hoodies and leather skirts look different when worn is actually not traditional fabrics, which is a discovery that can only be obtained by watching and wearing them up close.


So the relationship between Gucci Ancora and the new Gucci fashion was further understood. Colors and text are an indispensable part of human life, and their repetition is driven by a focus on daily life and the discovery of fragmented details.


The rugged Ankara red leather jacket and eye-catching patent leather skirt are actually soft and close fitting. A daily simple look of a tank top paired with jeans is easily illuminated by the exquisite embroidery on the tank top. Sabato De Sarno has launched a new version of the Jackie Notte handbag for Gucci, with a chain design designed for parties. Gucci said that this collection represents a fashion style attitude that originates from reality, puts the wearer first, and is full of joy.


It is not difficult to predict that after a lively scene, doubts may arise about whether it is too early to celebrate now.


However, Sabato De Sarno wouldn’t know how many pairs of eyes were staring at him? Investors and shareholders are closely monitoring Gucci’s performance.


But he still decided to be sincere.


For someone who worked silently behind the scenes until September last year, the message and actions he conveyed were undoubtedly very brave. This newcomer was not intimidated by the daunting task of turning the giant ship in front of him, but firmly chose the value he recognized. He tried to make the various urban communities where Gucci Ankara Red had spread understand his ideas, and also hoped that the student community would be inspired by his own career.


I have to admit that my understanding of Sabato De Sarno has changed a lot since his trip to China, and I even think he has had too few interviews before. But upon second thought, it is understandable that this is a form of brand protection for creative directors, allowing them to develop their own ideas with peace of mind.


The expression of creators requires time to explore, refine, and consolidate. For Sabato De Sarno, who has just released two seasons of work and only recently arrived in front of people in one season, the journey has just begun.


Gucci may want to limit the instability of creative directors within a certain structural range, as the luxury goods industry has been a collective effort from beginning to end, and the market’s excessive focus on creative directors has developed to an unhealthy level.


In just a few years, the market’s perception of creative directors seems to have changed once again, from unrealistic expectations for a professional versatile creative director to recognition of the limitations of creative director functions under the complex business machinery of luxury goods. The mission of the creative director is to propose a vision that is visionary enough to hit the nail on the head, rather than being comprehensive.


In a complex environment, the macro evolution of consumer demand from material ownership to spiritual experience will bring a new reshuffle opportunity to the luxury goods industry.


If a creative director can make people fall in love with fashion again, it will be the most important challenge in overcoming the current luxury goods industry.

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