Gucci has set down roots in New York’s Meatpacking District.
The Italian luxury house on Wednesday opened a two-level boutique spanning more than 9,000 square feet on the corner of Ninth Avenue and 14th Street. The store features an extensive women’s and men’s selection of shoes, handbags, luggage and Gucci Beauty on the ground floor, while the top floor is reserved for women’s ready-to-wear and menswear and an area dedicated to private appointments.
The new Meatpacking store brings the total of Gucci units in North America to 103 locations, including 73 freestanding stores, and 30 leased departments in retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom.
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The Meatpacking store is the fourth location in New York City, joining others on Fifth Avenue, Wooster Street and Brookfield Place.
“Gucci has a long history in New York City, opening its first boutique here in 1953,” said Federico Turconi, Gucci Americas president and chief executive officer. “We continue to look for neighborhoods where we can engage with our community and design new spaces to elevate the client experience.
“This new boutique is truly one of a kind with the most unique design to date. The second floor VIP room and unique fabrications seen throughout the space embodies Gucci’s creative energy. The full Gucci collection is available across two floors designed with sustainable features to continue innovating our immersive brand experience,” Turconi said.
The store’s design, developed in-house, is influenced by both New York and Florence — two important cities in the house’s 102-year history. Grid-patterned metal mesh ceilings reflect the industrial character of the Meatpacking neighborhood and create a geometric counterpoint to the layout punctuated by a curved staircase made of shiny mirrored tiles and two U-shaped booths for displaying select items. The store features painted cement flooring that is drawn from historic Florentine marble motifs while reflective columns echo classical Italianate architecture and the frenetic pace of New York City.
On the main floor, for example, is a big emphasis on travel, with the Valigeria collection of luggage, carry-ons, travel bags and totes. Also highlighted are separate areas for fine jewelry (including Gucci Link to Love and Gucci Flora collections); handbags (the signature Jackie 1961, Bamboo 1947, Horsebit 1955 Bag Collections, Gucci Ophidia GG Flora White, among others), and men’s and women’s footwear. Typically, the majority of Gucci’s business is done in accessories and handbags.
Upstairs is women’s rtw, featuring creative director Alessandro’s Michelle’s final collection for the house (his “Twinsburg” spring 2023 show where the suit was a strong proposition), and some pieces from Cosmogonie, the cruise 2023 line, and men’s apparel, along with several stylish mannequins and spacious dressing rooms, including a VIP dressing room.
The opening of the store comes as Gucci is in a state of transition — and under pressure to return to growth. As reported, Michele stepped down last November and is being succeeded by Sabato de Sarno, a former fashion director at Valentino. He will show his first collection for Gucci in September, with the men’s and women’s fall 2023 and men’s spring 2024 collections being designed by the in-house team.
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Gucci’s comparable sales fell 9 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, which parent Kering blamed on high comps and the pandemic lockdowns in China. They were up 9 percent and 4 percent in the third and second quarters, respectively. But it is understood the brand has been pushed by Kering chief François-Henri Pinault to change its design direction and recapture its aura of true luxury.
As part of that effort, Gucci is introducing Gucci Salons, permanent or temporary freestanding units or floors within existing stores. The first permanent global Salon will open next month on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles and will enable high spending consumers to order bespoke luggage, exotic leather goods, furniture and high jewelry, with prices ranging from about 40,000 euros to 3 million euros.
At more than 9,000 square feet, the new Gucci store is considerably smaller than the Fifth Avenue location, which spans 46,000 square feet. The Rodeo Drive unit is 21,000 square feet, while the Detroit store is 3,500 square feet.
Gucci said it decided to open in the Meatpacking District because of the area’s “eclecticism, vibrancy and creative energy.” The boutique embraces a ’70s-inspired aesthetic, brought to life by decor emboldened by pop colors, mirrored surfaces and vintage furniture from the midcentury era. The walls of the private area upstairs are upholstered in deep, jade-green carpet in a nod to the decade.
Gucci had a pop-up at 446 West 14th Street in the Meatpacking District in October 2021 for about three or four months, which was part of Gucci 100, the collection that paid tribute to the centennial of the house.
The new store is located directly across the street from the three-story Apple store and has its main entrance on Ninth Avenue. Gucci joins such brands as Dior, Loro Piana, Diane von Furstenberg, Alice + Olivia, Hermès, Theory, Warby Parker, Belstaff and AllSaints in the Meatpacking neighborhood, which is bouncing back from the closures during the pandemic.
According to the Meatpacking Business Improvement District (BID), the Meatpacking District continues to see great visitation growth post-pandemic. The neighborhood experienced a 66 percent increase in visitation year-over-year in 2022 versus 2021, accounting for 5 million more visitors to the district in 2022. On average, this is more than 1 million visitors a month or around 250,000 a week. The Meatpacking District had 20 new businesses open in 2022, with food and beverage and apparel accounting for 40 percent of total businesses in the district.
“With year-over-year visitation growth, several new businesses opening and a strong return to office as employers adopt hybrid and in-office work models, the Meatpacking District is thriving by appealing to visitors and locals alike. The district continues to demonstrate a strong recovery from the pandemic due in large part to the neighborhood’s positioning as a place to enjoy, whether outside on the plaza or in a gallery at the Whitney, the interesting mix of retail establishments, and ongoing streetscape transformation plans. It’s the continued evolution of the district, and the chapter ahead is very exciting,” Jeffrey LeFrancois, the Meatpacking District BID’s executive director, told WWD.
Bolstering Gucci’s continued commitment to sustainability, the store’s furnishings include restored secondhand pieces while surfaces are decorated with more environmentally friendly fabrics and materials like Demetra. The animal-free textile pioneered by Gucci is more than 78 percent plant-based and made from sustainable, renewable, and bio-based sources.
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Demetra is featured in pink on the store’s downstairs walls and blue on the upstairs walls as well as in the booths. The floors use Silipol, an innovative cement that is composed of natural elements and is 100 percent recyclable. Two fitting rooms have been decorated with upcycled archival fabrics from the house’s past collections: a maxi white and purple houndstooth pattern for one and a geometric design in rusty orange tones for the other.
The new Meatpacking District store is also LEED-certified and uses 100 percent renewable energy and LED lighting.
As the first luxury brand to do so, Gucci achieved LEED certification in 2009. Since then, the house has continued to achieve LEED certification across its retail network, totaling more than 110 stores in 2022. The house plans to extend LEED certification to all 380 of its eligible directly operated stores by 2025.
In addition, Gucci attained its 100 percent green energy target in all its directly operated stores worldwide. In 2022, 90 percent of Gucci stores used LED lighting, reducing energy consumption.
Antonella Centra, executive vice president, general counsel and corporate affairs and sustainability at Gucci, said, “Our stores around the world are preeminent destinations where our clients come to experience Gucci and our collections. This is one of the many reasons why it is important that our stores reflect and convey our values when it comes to sustainability. With this new opening, we are underscoring our long-term commitment to embed sustainability across our retail network. Starting from the store’s interior, designed with upcycled furnishings and fabrics, including Demetra-adorned walls as well as archival textiles nodding to both our heritage and the built-in circularity of luxury’s timeless materials, to energy efficiency programs in the LEED-certified built space, we are continuing to elevate our stores worldwide to reduce our environmental footprint ongoing.”
In addition, the Meatpacking store features an extensive physical presence of Vault’s Gucci Continuum, the initiative that perpetuates the life of past Gucci pieces and deadstock fabrics by inviting brands, arts and makers to incorporate them into their own future designs, thereby reducing waste and encouraging circularity. The store highlights such creative partners as Vans, Rave Review, Alice Pons and Hodakova.
Hodakova created playful bags and garments from several Gucci belts; Pons reimagined her line of historical corsets in Gucci’s patterns, while Swedish designers Rave Review’s paneled coats and slipdresses combine Gucci’s outerwear fabrics and gossamer silks, and Vans designed sneakers and slip-on shoes with textiles archived from recent Gucci collections.