Gucci Show Reminds Everyone that Influencers Are Replacing the Media
Is it 2009 again? Plus more highlights from Milan Fashion Week!
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The Gucci show took place in the Gucci Hub, outfitted with retro-style olive green carpet and conversation pits. Gucci shared a Severence-esque reel of the venue featuring an elevator, flashing rectangular office lights, and thumping techno with a caption stating, “The women’s Fall Winter 2023 runway recalled a place of work where ideas and creativity are exchanged.” Or, as it turned out, sniping.
A number of reviews of the Gucci show made special mention of influencers attending and sitting together in one of the pits, even though this is as unusual in 2023 as clothes appearing on a runway. The New York Times noted “ever-present K-pop stars and other Asian influencers.” Vogue’s review explained that the “influencer pits,” according to the show notes, “represented the collaborative circularity at the heart of Gucci’s creative community.” The Telegraph stated, “A posse of influencers, some of them literally dressed as clowns in pierrot diamond patterns from the last Gucci collection, applauded enthusiastically, but the rest of the audience seemed to be wondering what happens next.”
Earlier in Back Row: Who Gets to Be a Fashion Authority in 2022?
Some of these influencers responded to all this. Bryan Yambao wrote on Instagram, “2023 and all we wanted to do is watch a fashion show, see clothes and accessories, wear them, shoot them and love them. I don’t think anyone who sat on that pit in the middle of the show venue at @Gucci signed up to be ridiculed, mocked and shaded by some of the ‘press.’” Susie Lau wrote, “Gucci’s conversation pit relit a debate that felt like déjà vu . @bryanboy said it best of course [in his social media posts]. The gall of most print media in 2023 to sneer at influencers in the subtext of their reviews is hilarious, considering how many have adopted social media modus operandi (NEWSFLASH print ppl do selfies, OOTD’s and even Tik Tok content too !)” Tap/click to read her caption in full:
In Back Row’s 2023 fashion predictions, I wrote that fashion criticism would continue disappearing this year. I thought this would be largely due to people preferring to learn about fashion from influencers, particularly TikTok critics (some of whom are fashion professionals and may not have fancy newspaper titles but do an excellent job). However, the Gucci discourse suggests it’s not just that the concept of written criticism can’t out-click short-form video — it’s that a lot of criticism is out of step with audience sentiment. This probably stems in part from self-preservation. Yambao is the editor-in-chief of Perfect magazine. Lau is a critic for Business of Fashion and columnist for the Evening Standard. Others who started as bloggers have gone on to significant legacy roles in the business, like Margaret Zhang, the editor-in-chief of Vogue China.
What I see when I look at these influencers in that conversation pit is not just influencers.