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The Pros And Cons Of Gucci Buying Up Its Suppliers

by: Rosie Dalton | 2 years ago | News

Image: inside one of Gucci’s supplier factories. Image source.

Finally, luxury fashion is starting to wise up to the importance of responsible sourcing and production methods. World Environment Day last week, for example, saw Gucci launch its new sustainability platform, Gucci Equilibrium. And according to Fashion Journal, this platform aims to address three key pillars for positive change: the environment, people and new models of sustainable innovation. 

Which all forms part of Gucci’s wide-ranging 10-year sustainability plan. And, in keeping with this, Business of Fashion also reports that Gucci has recently tightened its grip on suppliers – in a bid to improve the brand’s overall traceability. In other words, the brand is buying up its suppliers and taking production in-house. As one of the fastest-growing fashion brands in 2017, Gucci has been paving the way for a radical industry makeover. So what are the pros and cons behind the brand’s latest supply chain move?

Pro: this makes production more traceable
According to reports, Gucci has bought out 10 local suppliers and is currently closing in on another 10. One great thing about this shift is that it should make the brand’s supply chain much easier to monitor and trace. That should allow them to improve the sustainability of their materials, for instance – as set out on their Gucci Equilibrium platform. And to ensure that artisans have plenty of ongoing work.

Con: but it also makes things faster
According to BoF, though, increasing production speed was one of the main driving factors behind Gucci’s decision to take production in-house. "We want to reduce the lead time, and it's not possible if you're too scattered with small suppliers," Bizzarri told reporters. But what this also means is that luxury fashion is beginning to mimic the fast fashion cycle – and that’s a problem. Not only does it mean workers are forced to adhere to faster turnaround times, but that can also diminish the level of quality craftsmanship involved in the process.

Pro: it helps to protect artisans
At the same time, Gucci’s decision to buy up local suppliers can also help to protect artisans. Part of this process involves creating joint ventures with external workshops or giving them exclusive contracts – and all of that ultimately helps guarantee ongoing work and income for the artisans working within these factories. “Because of the growth that we're having we need to protect our artisans," Bizzarri said. And in a world where traditional craftsmanship is rapidly in decline, we couldn’t agree more.

Con: but also means they lose some of their independence
However, with the ongoing work provided by Gucci also comes a certain loss of control for the brand’s supplier factories. Bizzarri points out that part of the brand’s mission is to eliminate competition – "we need to make sure other brands are not stealing supply,” he said. But eliminating the competition can also mean suppliers must rely heavily on the one brand,, therefore exposing them to risk. With less independence or leverage over prices and policies, factories will need to rely on the brand to set those benchmarks – and hope that they do so fairly.

What all of this shows, then, is that fashion industry supply chains are incredibly complex beasts. Fortunately, Gucci is one of the big players now trying to make a more positive impact on people and the planet – but that doesn’t make the brand perfect. So whenever we read news along these lines, it's important to weigh up both the pros and cons of what brands are doing, in order to properly understand how responsible they are.


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