Fast fashion retailers like Primark and Zara have had a busy year “designing” inspired-by looks from fashion’s most popular luxury houses. The biggest copycat victim may be Gucci, whose accessories and clothing have been reborn in the form of $10 loafers and $24 sweaters.
Despite the counterfeits and copycats (one fashion editor calls fake Gucci ‘Fucci’), millennials are willing to pay for the real thing.
According to the research firm Edited, Gucci is the most popular luxury accessories brand among younger shoppers, who spend an average of $3,146 per purchase on styles from the Italian house. And now, more than half of Gucci’s consumer base is made up of millennial shoppers.
While retail may be roiling from sector turmoil and depressed sales — that includes luxury apparel, sales of which were down 34.5 percent in the last year — luxury bag sales are up 22 percent, in large part thanks to millennials eager to get their hands on trendy, albeit expensive accessories.
“For millennials, these kinds of items represent better value as they’re a way to affiliate with a brand or lifestyle but can be worn across multiple looks and in different stylings,” says Katie Smith, senior retail analyst at Edited.
Other top-performing luxury brands, according to Edited, include Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga, each of which has been revitalized by new creative directors within the last few years (Nicolas Ghesquière, Anthony Vaccarello, and Demna Gvasalia, respectively).
And for some “tech-seeking millennials,” says Edited, it wasn’t a new gadget they had their eyes on. Instead, it was the Prada Tessuto Robot nylon tote, which retails for a cool $1,480.
Despite the success at other brands, Gucci and its “renaissance man” Alessandro Michele are the real vanguard when it comes to attracting millennials, both as shoppers and collaborators. The Italian design house, owned by European luxury conglomerate Kering, commissioned 24-year-old artists to design slogans and billboards, and internet influencers-cum-auteurs to translate the clothes and accessories to Instagram-speak: memes.
If there was any doubt left that Gucci’s strategy has paid off, let it be squashed: the Edited data coincides with data from the e-commerce site Lyst, which recently released its index of the top products and brands of the second quarter of 2017.
The highest-ranking brands on the Lyst index are Gucci (“thanks to the brand’s logomania revival and its focus on digital innovation”) and Yeezy (Kanye West’s collaborative line with Adidas). What’s more, Gucci items make up four of the top 10 most popular products — it’s the only brand to have more than one product in the top 10.
One Gucci slogan, created by that 24-year-old artist Coco Capitán, asks shoppers, “What are we going to do with all this future?” The answer for millennials, it seems, is to keep buying Gucci.
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Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Style + Beauty. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.