If there was a take-away from GUCCI’s fall 18 collection – a tour de force of 90 looks that included everything from Pagoda hats to pet dragons, diamante sneakers to basketball-shaped bags – it’s that artistic director Alessandro Michele isn’t exactly running out of ideas. But that hasn’t stopped the Italian fashion house from investing in its future. Late April marked the opening of ArtLab: a 37,000 square metre laboratory of ideas and innovation which will serve as GUCCI’s centre for research and development, product development and in-house prototyping for leather goods and shoes. Staffed by 800 workers and situated on the outskirts of Florence, the ArtLab looks as visually appealing as the pieces it will produce: the façade has been decorated by large scale paintings by Michele’s favourite artists, including Unskilled Worker (who collaborated with GUCCI for a capsule collection last year) Spanish artist Ignasi Monreal (whose paintings are splashed on GUCCI’s sweaters and t-shirts) and Coco Capitán (the multi-disciplinary artist responsible for the defaced designs in the brand’s fall 17 collection).
The brand’s significant investment in its accessories arm is a savvy move: since Michele’s appointment in January 2015, demand for GUCCI has almost doubled; with leather goods and footwear accounting for over 70 per cent of total revenues.