This Chinese New Year celebrates the year of the tiger, and for luxury fashion house Gucci, that means raising conservation awareness for the world’s largest cats.
While it looks like Gucci models are sharing real estate with tigers in its ‘Gucci Tiger’ campaign, there’s photoshop expertise at play. The tigers were never really there. But the Italian luxury label is hopeful it’s able to spark emotion with the eye-catching campaign—both for the sake of the animals and for the sake of design. The new collection features tiger and the label’s logo, ahead of Chinese New Year on February 1st.
“A connection between the House’s past and present is formed with the mix of the contemporary tiger and the collection’s logo print,” a spokesperson for the label said.
The campaign was conceived of by creative director Alessandro Michele and photographer and director Angelo Pennetta.
Gucci has been supporting wildlife conservation efforts most recently through a program called the Lion’s Share Fund. The luxury house joined the campaign in 2020 to help protect endangered species.
The Gucci tiger isn’t new; the archival design originated in the ’60s by the Italian artist and illustrator Vittorio Accornero, who also created the brand’s iconic floral design.
Gucci Tiger spans across categories from shoes to tops and bags featuring the brand’s animal-free Demetra leather. It first launched the material last summer.
“Created from the House’s desire to explore and innovate materials for the future, Demetra is produced entirely in a Gucci factory in Italy using the same expertise and processes for tanning that give the material its pliable and resilient performance with a supple finish. Its versatility makes it suitable for a wide range of product categories and in the spirit of open innovation, Gucci will make Demetra available to the fashion industry,” the label said on its website.
The Gucci Tiger collection also features the label’s first-ever sustainable watch with tiger motif. It features recycled steel and the brand’s Demetra leather strap. The news comes after Kering, Gucci’s parent company, partnered with Cartier on the first luxury sustainable watch and jewelry initiative.
“Gucci presents a reinterpretation of a late 1960s archival design by Vittorio Accornero—the artist and illustrator who created the House’s signature Flora print. The tiger, a motif often seen in Alessandro Michele’s collections, is an expression of the House’s fascination with the wild beauty of the natural world,” reads the watch description.
Gucci animal use
Gucci came under fire for its use of animals in the campaign. The animal rights group PETA urged the brand to commit to never using animals in its campaigns again, “because cruelty is totally out of style.”
But Gucci says the animals were filmed in a safe environment, were not exploited, and there were welfare checks throughout the production.
“Nature, wildlife and its denizens are particularly important to Gucci, which in February 2020 joined The Lion’s Share Fund, a unique initiative raising much-needed funds to protect endangered species and their natural habitats,” the label said in an Instagram post.
“A third-party animal welfare organization, @americanhumane, monitored the set on which animals were present and verified that no animals were harmed. No animals were harmed® (AH 10629)
Tigers were photographed and filmed in a separate safe environment complying to Gucci’s policies and then featured within the campaign.”
“Here, the feline and floral motif defines this G-Timeless watch. The accessory is presented with a recycled steel case and Demetra strap. Created with the same processes used for tanning, the new material offers pliable and resilient performance with a supple finish. The eco-friendly material combines animal-free raw materials primarily from sustainable, renewable, and bio-based sources.”
Despite omicron surges, the brand is hosting pop-ups ahead of the Chinese New Year celebration next month. The in-person sales events will create forest-like environments with LED-lit leaves.
All shopping bags at the stores are conservation-focused, too. They’re made from paper responsibly sourced from ethically managed forests. The bags also include glue-free handles made from recycled polyester, as well as organic cotton ribbons.
Prada’s ‘Action in the Year of the Tiger’
Fellow Italian luxury label Prada is also turning its attention to the tiger. “Action in the Year of the Tiger” is Prada’s approach to the zodiac event. It’s launched a multi-pronged campaign along with a collection across outerwear, knits, and pets, as well as an art project aimed at raising awareness and protection efforts for tigers.
With brand ambassadors on board including Li Yifeng and Chun Xia, Prada’s campaign features its red, black, and white Re-Nylon ski line that launched late last year. It also features chunky knits and even pet accessories.
Prada’s art project is targeted at talents under age 30 and in art schools, specifically in China. The project asks them to create a personal interpretation of the tiger—be that a painting, design, or sculpture. The designs will be judged in July.
The Italian luxury house is also donating to the China Green Foundation’s, “Walking With Tiger and Leopard” program and bringing awareness to the wildlife and biodiversity in China.
All species of tigers are highly endangered, red-listed by the International Union for Conservation. Fewer than 3,500 tigers remain in the wild across all species. Estimates put population numbers for the Siberian tiger, the world’s largest cat species, at fewer than 500 remaining in the wild.