Gucci’s latest retail endeavor is one for the history books — quite literally, as it’s situated within a 14th-century palazzo in Florence, Italy. Dubbed “Gucci Garden,” the multi-level galleria costs 8 euros to enter, with half of each ticket sale being donated to support restoration projects in Florence, where the brand was founded in 1921 and continues to operate from. But hold up — what kind of retail experience costs money before you’re even in the door?
To be fair, the ground floor is free to enter; it’s the first and second floors you’ll have to pay for. The main floor features a “bazaar-like” retail space spread over two rooms, selling products exclusive to the location, replete with special clothing tags and packaging you won’t find outside the Gucci Garden store (hello, collector’s items; hello, resale market). Items from the Gucci Décor collection will also be available, as well as a selection of magazines and books. Additionally, the ground floor houses a restaurant called Gucci Osteria, from the Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura.
So if you do pony up the 8 euros to go upstairs, what can you expect? Basically, a two-floor brand experience designed like a museum. There’s a room dedicated to “the allure of the double G,” showing off vintage and contemporary renderings of the logo; a room celebrating the brand’s recurring motifs (like the horsebit and the red/green/red stripe); a 30-seat cinema; a natural history-inspired space filled with clothes, accessories, and objects “exploring [creative director] Alessandro Michele’s penchant for the iconography of animals and gardens.” Presumably one could walk away with a Ph.D. in Gucci
The effort is a grand example of experiential retail, the new normal for coercing shoppers back into brick-and-mortar stores. It also serves as a powerful marketing tool, immersing shoppers and brand fans in the lore of Gucci. The more skeptical among us may roll our eyes at the idea of paying Gucci to be marketed to by Gucci, but, hey, at least some of that dough will be invested in preserving history.