One could argue that much of Michele’s “playground” spirit is merely a sideshow to the bread-and-butter business he does with his bags. But here’s the fun fact: while the brand’s strongest category is still handbags, its ready-to-wear and shoe categories are now growing in tandem with the new flow of millennial money. A senior source at Kering told me earlier this summer that the majority of sales at Gucci are now made to millennial clients. And they’re buying clothes and shoes.
The new clients are disrupting the luxury market. Where once the average customer was an older woman in search of a loafer, today she (or he) is just as likely to be a twenty-something skateboarder looking for a sequin-embroidered sweatshirt with a metallic motif and sporty webbing detail - or a graffiti-print T-shirt by collaborator Coco Capitán.
Michele knows this. His “cinematic” all-inclusive collections skew towards the youth, but he remains mindful of the client who will only ever visit the brand via a handbag, or a belt. In throwing everything at his collections, and celebrating diversity, he’s found a way to keep everyone happy.
Asked to explain his particular success, Michele smiled like a magus. “Many people do things that are similar,” he said. “But sometimes one person becomes a phenomenon. The secret belongs to the mystery of the universe.”
Quite how all these millennials are finding the money to buy a sequin-encrusted bomber jacket embellished with diamanté beading is another mystery entirely. Perhaps when you know you will never afford a home of your own, you buy a new wardrobe instead.