Saturday, September 10, 2016

Gucci in Japan

I'm usually not into Gucci but I couldn't help but notice the advertisement above appearing in black and white in the August 18, 2016 edition (p. 10) of the International New York Times entitled (in hard to read yellow font) [street sounds]. The above image comes from and their article about the Fall-Winter 2016 Gucci Ad Campaign. From the article:

For the Fall-Winter 2016 ad campaign which just hit the interwebs today, we have Glen Luchford lensing his 4th consecutive campaign (or is it the 5th one?) for Gucci, shot on various locations in Tokyo from a pachinko parlour to a park and even the interior of a traditional Japanese house, complete with tatami mats. There are crowded streets, there are soap bubbles, there’s even a bowl of goldfish, with each campaign image subtitled with words like ‘street sounds’, ‘pop’ and ‘relentless buzzing sound’.

You don’t have to try to break it down and try to psychoanalyse it intently for its alternative meaning; you just have to sit back and enjoy [Gucci’s Creative Director Alessandro] Michele’s world. And figure out what you’ll be buying from the collection too, of course.

You can see more of the campaign's photos at the above quoted post or at

What struck me is that the photos look like they are taken in Japan but in a very hip way without the usual stereotypes. The focus on sounds with the titles almost looking like closed captions for the Deaf is interesting as well. I knew that Gucci did big business in Japan (45% of the brands $4.3 billion sales last year) but not about the over 50 years that the company has in Japan.

More on that history here:

This post is not in any way intended to be a product endorsement (I'm an anthropologist after all and can't afford Gucci...) but rather a good example of artistic photographs with interesting concepts being used for business and profit. All artists need their patrons...


Actually I was working on this post a few weeks ago and kinda forgot about it. I was reminded of it today by seeing another Gucci ad in today's International New York Times (September 10, 2016, p. 14) that contained the photo below.

The model is sitting in the tokonoma, an alcove in a traditional Japanese house that usually displays a scroll, flower arrangements or other art. It is extremely bad manners to sit or stand in the tokonoma. And he's wearing shoes on the tatami! Doing further research I found the image online at along with a video ad with more questionable behavior by foreign models in Japan.

So while the ad campaign might not rely too much on tired stereotypes of Japan, the behavior of the fun-loving, poor mannered foreigners should not be emulated. Don't blow bubbles in a pachinko parlor...

Related fashion post about Guess ads in Japan:

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