Salvatore Ferragamo made news earlier this week by rolling out its new ad campaign, entitled, A Man’s Story, featuring A$AP Rocky, among others. The venerable Italian brand has been a luxury stalwart for years - churning out contemporary and wholly appropriate ready-to-wear, alongside the label’s storied and reliably stylish footwear. While this sounds like an enviable enough position, it appears that the Ferragamo team felt a little bit left out of the spotlight of late. They’ve certainly had fewer mentions in rap and pop songs compared to their peers at Louis Vuitton and Prada; and their branded loafers, while still ubiquitous, are solidly in second place behind Gucci’s horse-bits as the shoe of choice for aging (and/or aspiring) WASPs. So, maybe it makes sense that Ferragamo wanted to liven things up.
In pursuit of these much hipper pastures, Ferragamo's Creative Director Massimiliano Giornetti, in conjunction with Director Francesco Carrozzini, place the of-the-moment rapper and kind-of style icon front and center. Draped in head-to-toe Ferragamo, the fashion-obsessed rapper gives us a voice over recalling the moment he first felt he had made it in music. The story is fine enough and references NYC sneaker boutique Alife for added cool points. Rocky recalls how it felt to see young people dressing like him for the first time - an apt reference to himself as a style icon - both because it jives with what he's selling and to inform the sizable portion of Ferragamo's fan base who are unfamiliar with the A$AP mob. The entire film runs 87 seconds.
So yeah, it totally makes sense for Ferragamo to want to inject some youthfulness into their brand and this is their way of pretty straightforwardly letting us know that. And while Rocky is no stranger to fashion - he’s appeared in a commercial for Alexander Wang and walked the runway for Hood By Air - this particular pairing doesn’t make sense immediately. Alexander Wang, despite its luxury pricing, is aimed at the same young, hip and monied crowd that Rocky targets with his music. And of course, Hood By Air makes sense, the designer and Rocky are actual friends (or they were)!
The Ferragamo connection on the other hand … does not appear to exist. There’s nary a reference to the label, or even its contemporaries like Ermenegildo Zegna, in Rocky’s verses. Even in the video, Rocky looks like he’s been styled by someone else; a rarity for someone known for wearing clothes so naturally. And his voiceover, recounting the first time he felt he had made it in the world of rap music - is this something Ferragamo shoppers can relate to, or are even interested in? Were the years of totally fine but definitely traditional print ads no longer pulling their weight? For as far back as it matters, Ferragamo’s ads have been pretty consistent: top-tier models styled to the hilt, looking into the distance, while bag and shoes grapple for the camera’s attention. Which makes perfect sense, because at its core, Ferragamo specializes in things like bags and shoes and ties. It is decidedly less of a lifestyle or aspirational brand that might benefit from bringing a fashion-forward rapper into the fold like, say, Alexander Wang did.
Ultimately, the disconnect between what we know A$AP Rocky to stand for thus far: so like, "clothes get weirder," [that's one of his lyrics, FYI] if nothing else, and Ferragamo: staid, stalwart, reliable (pick any one of those), is just too glaring for this to have a profound, or even positive impact on the brand. Ferragamo is luxury for people who are used to luxury; it is less about convincing, and more about reminding. This doesn’t mean you can’t aspire to purchase Ferragamo items, they’d probably love that! But in this "shake up," as Massimiliano Giornetti put it, which strives to speak to newer and younger customers, what happens to the old ones, the one who have allowed Ferragamo to thrive up to this point? Or, to younger customers who shop at Ferragamo precisely because they have not taken the plunge into the murky and rather unluxurious waters of pop-culture.
It is entirely possible the whole thing works out - younger people are drawn to the brand while the older ones simply don’t notice and somehow we all remember Massimiliano Giornetti's name. But that is an awfully risky bet for a brand so firmly rooted in the traditional luxury market, where, as we've discussed before, not all press is good press (see e.g. Coach and its relative demise, and maybe more appropriately, Louis Vuitton and Gucci's relatively recent market saturation gone all wrong). And when your notoriously fickle customers are also shopping at the likes of Chanel, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton - three luxury brands that have navigated Ferragamo's current predicament with relative ease (hint: 2 of them hired Pharrell!) - there is simply no room for branding mistakes, big or small.
For a totally different take, head over to Details for what could almost be mistaken as just paid content.