Prepare yourself fashionistas. Gucci recently announced a partnership that may cause you to rethink the future of the brand. Their deal with Crunchyroll will result in Gucci creating and distributing a whole new line of clothing and accessories rooted in the anime art form.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with anime. In fact, it is one of the hottest art forms on the market right now. It is just that we don’t normally associate high-end fashion brands with animation, though, stranger things have happened. Odd partnerships have been formed in the past. But brands like Gucci tend to stay away from pop culture.
Apparently, not this time. Crunchyroll and their Bananya franchise are too much to resist. Gucci has teamed up with Crunchyroll to introduce everything from sweatshirts to sneakers and high-priced jewelry. And get this: the least expensive item in the Bananya basket is a $450 brooch.
Capitalizing on a Trend
It is hard to fault Gucci for jumping on the anime bandwagon. They are capitalizing on a hot trend, which is something successful businesses do all the time. Gucci obviously sees enough strength in the anime market to embrace it without fear of it damaging their brand.
Even if the Bananya line doesn’t sell, it’s hard to imagine that Gucci would be harmed. At worst, loyal Gucci fans will simply decline to purchase the anime products. Gucci and Crunchyroll would definitely take a financial hit should that happen, but it’s hard to believe it would be devastating.
In the meantime, Sony is waiting on regulatory clearance to acquire Crunchyroll. Should the acquisition be approved, it will be interesting to see if Crunchyroll’s relationship with Gucci will change. Gucci might be more than willing to deal with an independent entity but not a subsidiary owned by Sony. We will have to wait to see how this plays out.
All Things Anime
While Gucci and Crunchyroll have been busy getting cozy, other companies have been producing anime and manga gear for quite some time. The anime genre is by no means new. It has been well received in the U.S. for nearly 40 years. It is just getting so much attention now because coronavirus restrictions have people looking for all sorts of new entertainment options.
At Umai, an online company that designs and sells Japanese streetwear, anime has been a solid part of the business plan since day one. The company’s founder is an anime artist who got involved in the apparel industry out of a desire to help people feel good about the clothing they wear.
Anime has proved to be a good topic to focus on. It has broad appeal across multiple demographics. People appreciate it for a number of reasons including more realistic depictions of characters and storylines. In terms of the characters, their proportions are more in line with real human beings. And where stories are concerned, they are more like real life than any other art form.
As Long as It Lasts
Getting back to Gucci, there is a strong possibility they will ride out the anime trend for as long as it lasts. Assuming they can reach the desired margin on the Bananya line, they will keep producing high-priced anime clothing and accessories. It’s no big deal for them to make a $450 piece of jewelry fashioned after an animated banana.
Long after Gucci exits the market, companies like Umai will continue soldiering on. They may not be able to charge the same high prices as Gucci, that they’ll continue doing what they do because they believe in anime as a worthwhile art form.