Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele is leaving the Italian fashion house, the biggest brand of French luxury group Kering.
Michele, a former accessories designer, who took on the top creative role at Gucci in 2015, is credited with reviving the label’s popularity with flamboyant and gender-fluid styles.
“Could a major change be taking place at Gucci? Well-placed sources here say that creative director Alessandro Michele is exiting the brand,” WWD said in a report from Milan.
A statement was expected as early as Wednesday, it added.
Both Kering and Gucci declined to comment on the WWD report.
WWD quoted one source as saying Michele had been asked “to initiate a strong design shift” to light a fire under the brand, and that the designer did not meet the request. The WWD report said that Kering’s chairman and CEO Francois-Henri Pinault, was looking at a change of pace for the brand.
Alongside CEO Marco Bizzarri, Michele oversaw a period of soaring growth between 2015 and 2019, with profits increasing nearly four-fold and revenues almost trebling.
But in recent quarters, Gucci, which accounts for the bulk of Kering’s profits, had begun lagging peers, with its performance in the key Chinese market becoming a source of concern for investors.
“After seven years in charge of Gucci’s creative engine, it may well be time for a change, and consensus amongst institutional investors appears to be forming that a new approach is required to re-ignite the brand,” RBC analysts said in a note
“Overall, the notion of change in the creative lead at Gucci is likely to be viewed positively by the market, and in Kering’s share price,” they added.
“Gucci is in the middle of a complex transition aimed at elevating the brand,” said Citi analyst Thomas Chauvet.
“While Kering management has historically been patient on executing turnarounds, the nomination of a new designer could accelerate the pace of change and redefine the brand’s aesthetics.”
- Reporting by Mimosa Spencer, Dominique Vidalon, Silvia Aloisi and Piotr Lipinski; Editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Jane Merriman, of Reuters.