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June 24, 2020

Gucci Comes Full Circle With Its First-Ever Sustainable Campaign, Off The Grid

Text by Sadaf Shaikh

Close on the heels of announcing its seasonless approach to fashion, the Italian brand has unveiled its premier sustainable collection starring a motley group of influential individuals like Jane Fonda, Miyavi, David de Rothschild, Lil Nas X and King Princess who join forces to promote circular processes under the approving eye of creative director Alessandro Michele

Before Alessandro Michele came on as creative director in 2015, Gucci was part of an elite brands’ club, speaking to a tiny percentage of ‘the haves’, in the lofty way that most fashion houses are known to communicate with their target audience. Michele, however, turned out to be Gucci’s Noah — the messiah who salvaged the elements which contributed to the brand’s success while allowing anything that was archaic to metaphorically sink to the bottom — and paved the way for a new system of existing in the fashion realm. In the last few years, luxury brands have been forced to interact with consumers in more meaningful ways and few have managed to go mainstream as effortlessly as Gucci has.

Michele’s game plan for Gucci, however, goes beyond partaking in cool gimmicks like placing baby dragons and severed heads in the hands of models during fashion week or even dressing an entire group of dessert-flinging kids in the music video for Harry Styles’ Kiwi. In a bid to take responsibility for the wasteful extravagance that the fashion industry has been called out for in the wake of the pandemic, the Italian brand announced that it would permanently limit the number of fashion shows that it produces every year down to two, instead of having separate menswear, resort, and pre-fall shows as well as biannual presentations at Milan Fashion Week in September and February.

Close on the heels of this solemn declaration comes another power move with Gucci having announced its first-ever circular collection last week. Titled Gucci Off The Grid, the capsule is part of Gucci Circular Lines, an initiative specially created by Michele to support the house’s vision for circular production. The campaign was shot and conceptualised before the pandemic, but is surprisingly evocative of the malady of over-consumption promoted by the fashion industry that has been brought up for questioning in the wake of Covid-19 and the efforts of a few conscientious individuals to rid the planet of this affliction. Michele inserts his brand into this group of warriors with inspiring deftness. Jane Fonda, Academy Award-winning actor, producer, author and activist; guitarist, singer-songwriter, record producer and actor Miyavi; David de Rothschild, environmentalist and explorer; Grammy award-winning rapper, singer and songwriter Lil Nas X; and King Princess, singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and music producer, join forces to breathe life into his vision to create a circular economy where the maximum value is extracted out of a single resource before it is discarded. It’s both heartening and impressive to note that Gucci (once again) succeeds where most brands fail: the clothes are a far cry from the drab, shapeless ensembles that come to mind when one thinks of sustainability; the brand retains its eclecticism even while it commits to defending the planet against a perennial predicament.

The campaign’s protagonists act as a group of city dwellers currently occupying a rustic treehouse constructed in the heart of a bustling metropolis, the juxtaposition between the green of the flora and the grey of the concrete starkly evident. Dressed in ready-to-wear, footwear and accessories all created from recycled, organic, bio-based and sustainably sourced materials, including ECONYL®, a regenerated nylon made from nylon offcuts and pre- and post-consumer waste, the stars look into the camera with a wilful intensity, almost as if to say, “We’re here. We’re looking at your wasteful ways. We’re showing you how to be better.” To be honest, it’s hard to not believe this motley crew of influential individuals when they bore into you with that piercing gaze.

Highlighting the conception of the collection, Michele says: “The collection is the result of teamwork; everybody brought something to it. And in the campaign, too, there is this idea of dialogue among people building something new. I imagined that we could build a tree house in a city centre, all together, like kids playing in the park. Because all of us need to build this house or to find out that our planet exists, even where it seems it’s not there, or it’s far away.”

The Gucci App, which was hailed a pioneer last year for allowing buyers to try on shoes using AR, invites users to take a themed quiz, responding to questions about the collection and its circular production process. Taking cues from the campaign’s concept, players can create their own city tree house virtually by correctly answering questions, and eventually unlock wallpapers to share on social media.

Watch the Gucci Off The Grid campaign video below.

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