Around 40 artisans from Gucci’s design studio staged their first-ever strike on Monday, protesting against the planned relocation of a significant portion of the team from Rome to Milan.
Gucci, the Italian luxury brand owned by the French group Kering, announced in October that it would move 153 of its 219 design employees from the capital to Milan. The protesting artisans argue that this move is essentially a disguised mass redundancy.
Demonstrators outside one of the Rome offices held banners with messages like “Gucci cuts but doesn’t sew” and “At Gucci, redundancy is fashionable.” Chiara Giannotti, a union representative for the brand, highlighted the significance of the strike, stating that the style office is the heart of Gucci, where designers and couturiers work, and where all collections are born.
This strike follows the participation of over 50 Gucci artisans in a national strike organized by Italy’s largest trade unions last week. Giannotti accuses Kering of wanting to use this restructuring to reduce staff numbers and force out employees who may not find the new conditions satisfactory or cannot relocate due to family commitments in Rome.
Gucci responded to the protests, stating that the move “does not envisage any reduction in personnel and will be implemented in full compliance with current regulations.” The company also claimed to have provided “a series of economic and support measures” for the affected staff.
While 153 employees are set to be transferred to Milan by March, the fate of the remaining 66 artisans staying in Rome is uncertain, according to the unions. Giannotti stressed the unions’ demand for equal conditions for all during the transfer to Milan, or relocation to other Kering companies in Rome or Florence.
This strike comes in the wake of Gucci’s change in artistic direction in January, with Sabato De Sarno taking over from Alessandro Michele, who had damaged the label with eccentric, gender-fluid designs and unconventional shows over seven years.