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Gucci Is Partnering With an Italian University to Launch a 3-Year Research Lab

This new project will explore how luxury organizations are evolving in the 21st century.
Models pose the on stage at Gucci's Spring 2019 show during Paris Fashion Week. Photo: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Gucci

Models pose the on stage at Gucci's Spring 2019 show during Paris Fashion Week. Photo: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Gucci

There isn't a fashion brand on the planet that wouldn't like a hefty slice of the Gucci pie right about now. With sky-high revenues, all-star collaborations and season after season of critically acclaimed collections that are also a hit with customers, the Italian legacy house — with Alessandro Michele at the helm — has quickly become a primary point of reference for labels of all aesthetics and price points. Now, Gucci is looking to invest more formally, and academically, in the greater luxury industry.

On Tuesday, Gucci announced that it's partnering with one of Italy's most prestigious schools, Milan's Bocconi University, to launch the Gucci Research Lab, a three-year project that will explore how luxury organizations can most effectively evolve in the 21st century. The Lab will maintain a similar format as other scholastic programs, being comprised of a research team of four professors who are managed by a Lab Director. At the end of the year, its annual findings will be published in an official paper, presented to stakeholders and also made available to the public.

The Lab will focus on company culture, and how an organization's "soft skills" — such as "a startup mentality, employee empowerment, risk-taking, fast decision making and agile processes," according to a release — can heighten conditions for optimal employee, and thus, company, performance. Which means: How fashion companies treat their staffers, from designers to photo editors to accountants, will all be on the table. 

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"I am delighted that Gucci and Bocconi University, renowned for its applied research, are collaborating on this important initiative, which is designed to reveal important insights that large and small companies can learn from," said Gucci President and CEO Marco Bizzarri in a statement. "More than ever before a company's culture can be the differentiating factor in terms of competitive advantage."

That Gucci is taking the initiative to explore the issues surrounding company culture is one thing, but whether fashion brands, including Gucci itself, will take the Lab's findings to heart is another thing entirely. But if any house can make executives understand the employee empowerment is the best way to improve organizational output, it's probably the one that saw a 49 percent sales boost last quarter — and that's under the leadership of longtime staffer who was promoted from within.

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