French luxury company Kering has named Sabato De Sarno as the next creative director of Gucci.
De Sarno, who currently works as a senior fashion designer at Valentino, will be accountable for resurrecting Gucci as a competitive and top-performing brand in the luxury retail sector. While the brand made up two-thirds of Kering’s profits in 2021, it has been losing momentum for the past few years after recording impressive growth between 2015 and 2019.
The 39-year-old brings extensive experience working for some of the world’s most popular fashion brands, having started his career at Prada in 2005 and later working for Dolce & Gabanna. In 2009, he was hired by Valentino, where he worked closely with chief designer Pierpaolo Piccioli in various capacities, including fashion director for the brand’s men’s and women’s collections.
“I am proud to join a house with such an extraordinary history and heritage that, over the years, has been able to welcome and cherish values I believe in,” De Sarno said. “I am touched and excited to contribute my creative vision for the brand.”
De Sarno is expected to present his first Gucci collection at Milan Women’s Fashion Week in September 2023.
His appointment echoes that of Gucci’s previous creative chief Alessandro Michele, who was also not a widely known designer at the time of his appointment in 2002. It comes two months after Michele left his position following tensions with Kering’s management team.
Rumor has it that Michele was asked to deviate from his romantic and maximalist design aesthetic, which he failed to deliver. While Michele successfully increased the brand’s appeal with a new look and feel, Gucci has still struggled to compete with other players over the last few years, with its sales lagging behind players such as Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga.
According to Reuters, Kering’s stock has lately been the worst performer in the luxury space, falling behind Paris CAC 40 and the pan-European STOXX 600 index for the last three years.