Gucci’s 2015 price slashes in the China were described as “basically giving away clothes.” The luxury fashion house sees nearly 30 percent of its sales from China and another 10 percent from nearby countries (not counting Japan). But luxury sales have continued to slide in China. In fact, Gucci just closed a five-year-old, 800-square-meter retail presence in Sichuan, following the closing of five other Gucci China stores in 2015. It opened just one new one during that period. But Gucci’s focus on China is not diminished. In fact, it’s literally making China part of its new products.
“Our new Gucci Tian print features a contemporary floral motif inspired by Chinese landscapes depicted on 18th-century tapestries and screens,” writes Gucci of the designs in its new Tian collection.
— gucci (@gucci) March 24, 2016
For this new collection, the brand has enlisted a crew of all-Asian designers—including Cao Fei, Cheng Ran, Kelbin Lei, Yoshito Hasaka and Jaesuk Kim—and incorporated specifically Asian motifs. Gucci describes one of its new designs: “These works expressed the Daoist ideal of harmony with nature, presenting a perfect balance between action and stillness.”
— gucci (@gucci) March 23, 2016
And it doesn’t stop at the designers and the designs. Gucci’s Instagram, for example, has been recently flooded with all manner of imagery suggesting Asia from shoes left outside on dirt doorsteps to old Japanese women to mysterious bucket-hatted models. And to bolster its new collection, Gucci is becoming a patron of the arts, partnering with the Art Basel event in Hong Kong.
Gucci’s embrace of China and Asian designers is the result of new Creative Director Alessandro Michele and his ongoing #GucciGram embrace of the a dynamic brand system, which uses single fundamental designs and riffs on consumer familiarity of that design to explore new ideas. Gucci’s last dynamic brand experiment was on the Milan runway with street artist GucciGhost.
It remains to be seen if #GucciGram and Tian can turn China store closings into store openings for the brand. As luxury spending is predicted to once again pick up in China, will designers from a mix of regional nations—Japanese, Korean and mainland Chinese and Hong Kong—help Gucci appeal to Chinese luxury buyers?