Ramen check, textbook check, Gucci? Check?

Matt Boland

In the time of the retail apocalypse where malls, once the centerpieces of American culture, have been reduced to ruins and brands that were once household names have faded to distant memories, one unlikely prospect has endured the carnage, Gucci. Their savior? Millennials.

Everyday it seems we turn on the news or go to social media and see another retail giant on the brink of death, Sears, Kmart and Toys R Us are just some that come to mind.

So who’s to blame? There are many conflicting reports but one common thread can be found within almost all narratives, millennials. Yes, the world’s own self-absorbed internet generation are the serial murders destroying the retail industry, well most of it. While millennials may be the angel of death for some, they are the wind beneath the wings of others.

Last year luxury brands were on fire, posting more recorded sales than previous years. However, the MVP of this ballgame is Gucci, a brand that has rose from near obscurity and is burning brighter than the rest.

Gucci sales were up 49 percent last year, and 55 percent of those sales came from customers under the age of 35, according to the Guardian. So what’s the deal? Why are millennials flocking to a brand that sells $1200 sunglasses?

It’s simple, Gucci has done the seemingly impossible. It has cracked the millennial code and most impressively, captured the most elusive entity know to man, their attention.

Gucci has checked all the boxes for millennials, starting firstly with self-expression. Creative director Alessandro Michele has created a psychedelic world of zoo animals, embroidery and your grandma’s 70s wallpaper. More is more at the Italian fashion house and the result is a line that feels vintage but somehow cutting edge. He has created visual storytelling and a shopping experience that keeps millennials guessing and coming back to see what’s in store next for the brand.

The second box on Gucci’s crystal encrusted checklist is ethics. Millennials are concerned with very different issues than our forefathers. Topping the list is the environment, animal rights, health and inclusion, characteristics some would categorize as detrimental to our generation. However, Gucci feels otherwise. So when it announced in 2017 that they would no longer use animal fur in their line and donated $500,000 to the March for Our Lives gun control rally, Gucci ensured millennials their own personal values are reflected within the brand.

Finally the bookend to this whimsical love story is the most important aspect, social media presence. Gucci holds major influence in the digital realm. Think to yourself, ever heard the phrase Gucci gang? The answer, if you’re a millennial, is probably yes. Type Gucci in the YouTube search bar and you’ll be bombarded with videos ranging from Gucci hauls to wearing fake Gucci to a Gucci store, all of which have millions of views. And just last month a picture of a model walking for Gucci holding a replica of her head went viral on Instagram that spawned the #GucciChallenge.

Gucci has proven it’s a staple in social media and has managed to do what so many brands can’t seem to do, and that is establish a direct line of communication with the most influential generation at the moment.