In the extraordinarily expansive realm of handbags, the Gucci Marmont is one you can’t help spotting in the wild, even if you’re desperately trying not to.
It’s the Kering equivalent of the Neverfull, occupying a vast majority of the various mini-trends and micro-aesthetics that have been cropping up since the late 2010s. Shrunk to puny proportions, smattered with monograms, revived from the archives, or counterfeited like crazy, the Marmont has truly seen it all and done it all.
But for a top-tier heritage house like Gucci, visibility of such magnitude, at least as far as brand equity is concerned, is rarely good news (finance-wise, of course, sales couldn’t be doing any better). One might even think it was time the Marmont range was retired, lest we see a recurrence of the logo dilemma LVMH faces.
If only things were that easy. After all, as one of the perennially popular product lines from the House of Gucci, the Marmont is a raging patriarch – the Logan Roy in Gucci’s world of Succession, if you will. And if the recent report by Slingo, which squarely places it as the third most-searched handbag on Google and Instagram, is any indication, the Marmont isn’t going anywhere just yet.
But has it really managed to transcend into the world of classics, especially in light of the new direction the brand’s creative masthead, Sabato de Sarno, is taking?
A Machination of Michele’s Mind
For the third quarter of 2023, the House of Gucci clocked in sales of 2.22 billion euros, a figure beyond the wildest dreams of the humble Guccio Gucci bellhop to London’s Savoy Hotel. In fact, ever since young Guccio began formally manufacturing leatherware in 1921, the name Gucci has come to mean many things: Horsebit loafers, bamboo handle bags, not to mention its interlocking GG monogram, of course.
After Tom Ford departed from the brand as its Creative Director, however, the house was left to its own devices, unmoored and reliant on the success of past favorites – namely the bamboo handle and the Jackie – falling behind its peers churning out It-bag after It-bag, and banking on the big bucks of the Y2K.
But salvation, it seems, came from within, in the form of young Alessandro Michele, who’d been working his way up the brand since 2002 and finally was handed its creative reins thirteen years later! For his debut collection in the Fall of 2015, he launched the Dionysus, an It-bag du jour of the celeb crowd, quickly distinguishing him as one to watch out for.
But like young Guccio over a century ago, perhaps even Michele wasn’t prepared for what was to follow – the exponential popularity of the Marmont launched hot on the heels of the Dionysus in 2016.
From Château Marmont to the World
Named after the glamorous Château Marmont of Los Angeles, the Marmont is more a family of styles than a single silhouette (which is why the patriarch-anecdote makes sense), all with few outward signs of ostentation, save for a distinctive GG-hardware Michele derived from a 70s-inspired archival Gucci belt.
Since then, like the brand has done with its Dionysus and Zumi collections, the Marmont expanded from its basic matelassé leather, antique hardware shoulder bag rendition into a variety of top-handles, backpacks, buckets, camera bags and more, in sizes ranging from super mini flaps and SLGs, to maxi numbers and totes.
Aside from their signature chevron-quilting, the style has been rendered in every seasonal color, print, material, and embellishment imaginable, bottling up the bohemian spirit of the 70s with the micro-trends of today to create fresh designs the new, young clientele were sure to lap right up.
Of course, Michele didn’t just stop there, handing the Marmont out to his influential friends and influencers en masse. You may not have liked the Marmont (the kitschy heart-detailing on the back, for instance, remains one of several sources of irk to many), but it was impossible to miss. And with a portfolio of Instagram-ready iterations available, it’s honestly rather difficult not to like one either, each boasting not only the brand’s unique signature but also famously durable to boot!
In fact, for handbag aficionados such as ourselves, the latter half of the 2010s was the decade of a youthful new Gucci. And that, in no small part, was thanks to Michele’s Marmont lineup.
Making Way for Ancora?
As the near-prodigal creative genius, he was who put Gucci back on Kering’s radar again, Michele’s journey with the house came to an abrupt halt late last year, sparking a frenzy among shoppers to stock up on his wares while they lasted. All the while, the Marmont continued ballooning in popularity, with proportionate price increases bringing it just shy of $3,000 today.
But if Michele’s successor, Sabato de Sarno’s debut collection, Gucci Ancora, tells us anything, the focus seems to be rapidly shifting away from the Marmont – and for that matter, from most of Michele’s makings for the brand – towards a new Gucci of sartorial excellence. One might even say, a Gucci of quiet luxuries, as de Sarno himself reportedly said to The Cut’s Cathy Horyn, “I want people to recognize Gucci because of the shape.”
As a matter of fact, as editors and fashion people around the world are left wondering what exactly might de Sarno’s inspiration be, it appears that the reason why the Marmont was declared the third-most-popular handbag (unsurprisingly, after the Birkin and the Neverfull) is that fans miss their dearly-beloved Alessandro Michele.
They long for his deep-rooted understanding of the Gucci DNA and his willingness to take risks, which is what primarily put a bag launched only seven years prior nearly on par with industry heavyweights that have been in existence for decades, especially as the Marmont’s resale performance continues to be stronger than ever too. Then again, who knows, as adaptable and versatile as it is, maybe the Marmont just might warrant a permanent position in Gucci’s lineup for the years to come.
As Horyn says, de Sarno’s Ancora was merely an exploration of the past, “not a fresh proposal of how a young person might want to dress to go out, but a question mark. He should answer it next time.”