Gucci America General Counsel Jumps to Apparel Startup CreateMe
House of Gucci is a new movie starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver. This headline-stealing Hollywood film profiles the Italian family behind the Gucci fashion empire and casts a light on the glamour and drama inside the family. Interestingly, as the film debuted in theaters, a slot opened for a new top lawyer at Gucci’s U.S. headquarters.
Previous general counsel Brooke Crescenti left her role at Gucci America in September. She first joined Gucci America as an in-house lawyer in 2012. A graduate of Brooklyn Law School, Ms. Crescenti worked at law firm Herrick, Feinstein in New York. In 2017, she was named Gucci’s director of legal affairs. In January 2021, Crescenti’s predecessor, Nicole Marra, departed, and she was promoted to the general counsel role.
Ms. Marra left the Gucci general counsel position to become founder and CEO of Fixer Advisory Group LLC. Fixer Advisory Group is a full-service fashion consulting firm that provides brands with support for legal services, communications, strategic partnerships, and diversity and inclusion.
CreateMe and Data-Smart Manufacturing
Ms. Crescenti joined CreateMe Technologies, Inc. as general counsel. Founded in 2018, the startup provides a technology platform for apparel customization. CreateMe aims to revolutionize the on-demand apparel market. Their data-smart manufacturing platform is scalable, sustainable, and quick-to-market.
Based in New York with a research and development lab in San Francisco, CreateMe is privately funded. Startup employees come from diverse fields including mechanical engineering, product design, artificial intelligence, robotics, electrical engineering, material science, software programming, and apparel manufacturing.
Although CreateMe has over 100 employees, Ms. Crescenti has yet to expand the legal department. The company’s in-house counsel team currently includes Rambod Nader, a former in-house patent attorney at Huawei Technologies. Mr. Nader is senior director of intellectual property at CreateMe.
Founded nearly a century ago by Guccio Gucci, the fashion house is an enduring global sensation. The signature Gucci pattern of small, interconnected diamonds, often in a dark brown color, is recognizable to consumers worldwide. During the company’s history, it has survived takeover attempts and a near-bankruptcy. Gucci is headquartered in Florence, Italy.
Gucci America Today
Today, French luxury goods conglomerate Kering SA is the corporate parent of Gucci America. Kering SA has many luxury fashion companies in its portfolio, including Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, and Saint Laurent.
Kering’s financial performance has dropped. This slump is partly attributable to slowed sales at Gucci, which accounts for over half of Kering’s revenues. However, other fashion labels in Kering’s portfolio such as Bottega Veneta and Saint Laurent have experienced solid growth. In addition, forecasters predict Gucci’s revenues will pick up at the end of 2021 and that this momentum will continue into 2022.
Why the Company Values Sustainability
Sustainability is another focus area for Gucci’s legal department and Kering. Francois-Henri Pinault, the CEO of Kering Group, is committed to more environmentally friendly practices. The company created an environmental profit and loss accounting framework to help reduce its carbon footprint. This model quantifies Kering’s use of natural resources through the entire fashion supply chain. Consequently, it helps the company make sustainable decisions.
“Sustainability is part of purpose,” Mr. Pinault stated. “Modern companies have to define and pursue. Clients also have high expectations; in the future they will buy more and more from the brands that reflect their own values. If the corporate world is not able to rise up to its responsibilities, well, it will lose its credibility and finally will become completely out of touch.”
In-House Legal Issues at Gucci America
The legal department at Gucci America deals with legal issues that involve real estate, compliance, crisis management, and security. In-house legal teams at Kering work closely with in-house lawyers at Gucci America.
Sometimes employment lawsuits arise from members of the legal team itself. In 2011, Josephine Robinson, a former tax attorney at Gucci America, filed a discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit claimed Gucci America had a “high tolerance for racism” and that the leadership team did little to address discriminatory behavior. Gucci reached a settlement with Robinson in 2013 for an undisclosed amount.
Antonella Centra oversees Gucci’s legal departments worldwide. Ms. Centra is global general counsel and executive vice president for corporate affairs and sustainability and was appointed in January 2016. She has worked in the legal departments of many well-known companies including IBM, Prada, Coca-Cola, and Bottega Veneta. Prior to these positions, Ms. Centra worked at the law firm Wilmer Hale.