Another day, another proposal to revolutionize fashion: Over the weekend, Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele posted a series of Instagram notes—titled “Notes From the Silence,” written diary-style over the past two months, and typed in a faux-distressed Courier font—about his efforts to radically reimagine his approach to fashion and, he said, the fashion industry itself.
“Above all, we understood that we went too far,” Michele wrote in a note marked March 29. On May 3, he elaborated on the idea: “I will abandon the worn-out ritual of seasonalities and shows to regain a new cadence, closer to my expressive call. We will meet just twice a year, to share the chapters of a new story.” In concrete terms, that means skipping what he calls “leitmotifs”—Gucci’s cruise, pre-fall, spring-summer, and fall-winter shows, the ones that have led plenty of industry observers (and designers too) to complain about the business’s bloat and pace.
What that means more specifically is unclear—a commonality among basically all of the industry’s proposals—though Michele donned a floral robe and invited a handful of journalists to hear more via Zoom on Monday.
Based on what we know from the announcement and that call, here’s what Gucci’s future looks like:
The brand will reduce the number of fashion shows each year from five to two. No more pre-spring, post-fall, ante-resort, post-cruise mania.
Those two shows will be held in the fall and the spring—probably. Though Michele—who, since taking the reins at Gucci in 2015, has made a name for himself as one of the industry’s more out-there talents—reserves the right to change his mind and show when he pleases.
The shows will be coed. Gucci has shown its men’s and womenswear together since its Fall 2017 collection, though it decided to show menswear separately for Fall 2020. Gucci is also planning to open a section of its site called Gucci MX, which will allow customers to shop gender-fluid collections. (Of course, celebrities like Harry Styles have shown that customers are already buying and wearing Gucci with little regard for what section of the store it’s merchandised in.)
Gucci will not show this September. There’s not enough time to put together a collection—and doing so would be rushing it, which is exactly the kind of hamster-wheel creativity that Michele is hoping to avoid.
Michele emphasized that the goal is to slow down and do less. He also noted that the Gucci community goes way beyond the fashion industry and regular Gucci customers: “The fashion world has become a sort of Woodstock, open to a huge audience,” Michele said on the Zoom call. “We’re followed by many people who’ve never entered our stores. The community outside the company is scattered all over the world.”
Still, details are scant beyond these loose dates. But reading between the lines, a few things seem clear: Fashion shows are set to become more like consumer entertainment spectacles, optimized for digital audiences who stream them online. It’s possible they could go all digital, with no in-person audiences: Also over the weekend, a brand called Hanifa went viral for an impressive 3D digital show streamed on Instagram Live.
It also seems likely that Fashion Weeks will become less centralized. If Saint Laurent and Gucci aren’t showing on a standardized calendar, for example, will smaller designers (and their fashion shows) simply have to plan around the big billionaire brands?
But what’s really revealing is the diary format and old-timey typewriter effect of Michele’s notes—an almost twee anachronism suggesting a return to a simpler time. Brands seem less interested in radical change than reform and reduction—backtracking to an earlier state of affairs. No designer has laid out plans for an industry that, for example, doesn’t depend on fashion shows as big extravaganzas that push consumers (usually young) to spend $500 on T-shirts or sneakers. As Michele savvily pointed out, many Gucci consumers never even go in a store, but instead obsessively follow the brand as if it were playing at Woodstock—though perhaps the more accurate festival would be Coachella—with less expensive pieces peddled like merch to prop up the rest of the business.
What might a scaled-back fashion industry look like? Ideally, a renewed focus on creativity would make a glut of pointless products less necessary, since there would be fewer, more compelling products. The only question remains: Are designers innovative enough to make it happen?