Past Event: Stanford GSB Chapter of Hong Kong

Date Changed: Breakfast, Friday, 18 September 2015
Speaker Series:
Chairman, Sotheby’s and Chairman, Tom Ford International
Former Chairman, President & CEO, Gucci Group

"I Never Go Out to Lunch"
The Story of How "Doing a Gucci" Became a Fashion Industry Byword and That Famous "Shaved Gucci G"
How Domenico De Sole Took Gucci Group From Bankruptcy, Tax Evasion, and Family Betrayal to One of the World’s 10 Most Powerful Luxury Brands....and How He is Now Bringing this Same “Obsession with Consistency” to Fashion Icon Tom Ford Int’l and Sotheby’s

08:15 Registration & Informal Discussion
08:30 Remarks
09:15 Q&A
10:00 Close
Place Changed: Club Lusitano, 27th floor, 16 Ice House Street, Central, Hong Kong

Cost & Registration:
To register, please go online and CLICK HERE to RSVP and PAY NOW.

Early Bird Credit Card or PayPal Pre-Payment of HKD 300 if made by 23:59 Monday night, 16 September. Cash Payment or Late Bird Pre-Payment or at the Door will be HKD 500. Please bring exact amount if paying in cash/at the door (no change will be provided). No refunds for no-shows or post-payment cancellations.

Please note space is limited. Early Bird registration is encouraged. Questions or problems registering? Please contact Chapter VP Beatrice Wong at

Speaker's Bio
See below

Event Details:

The Stanford GSB Chapter of Hong Kong is pleased to invite you to a breakfast talk with Domenico De Sole, Chairman of both Sotheby’s and fashion icon, Tom Ford International, and the man credited with the ground-breaking rescue and turn-around of Gucci Group from failed marketer of cheap licensed goods to one of the world’s 10 most powerful brands.

Initially trained as a tax attorney, a Gucci tax deliquency client assignment led to De Sole’s being appointed first head of North America and eventually head of the overall Group, itself.

What De Sole found upon joining the Group was a once proud name licensed on everything from ashtrays to coffee mugs, with store fronts that resembled, in his own words, “Turkish Bazaars.”  A brand that tried to be everything to everyone, with a customer base stretching from teenagers to 90-year olds.

On one hand, Gucci’s turnaround under De Sole’s leadership (with the eventual support of later private equity owner Investcorp) embodied many once revolutionary concepts now considered industry best practice thanks to De Sole’s success. Such as use of a globally consistent storefront as a brand’s introduction, public face and “soul”. A realization that even luxury goods are subject to price-sensitivity, leading to creating of the then-untested category of “affordable luxury,” cutting prices by 30% which led to a corresponding 90% rise in profits. Use of controlled, high-quality accessories as a critical complement to apparel in establishing brand identity. In parallel, De Sole leveraged key strategic partnerships, including, perhaps most famously, with Groupe Pinault, that allowed Gucci greater “bang for its buck” while leading the Group, through acquisition, to create one of the world’s most powerful fashion houses, bringing under one corporate umbrella such brands as Yves Saint Laurent, YSL Beauté, Sergio Rossi, Stella McCartney, Balenciaga, Boucheron, Alexander McQueen, and Bottega Veneta.

Yet perhaps most critical in the Gucci turnaround story was De Sole’s willingness to promote then-unknown Tom Ford as creative director.

Under Ford’s vision, Gucci tightened its demographic focus to women in their 20s and 30s, and injected a lusty 1990s sex appeal to the then-tired brand, including, perhaps most famously, the revolutionary advertising campaign that featured a model’s pubic hair shaved into the shape of the Gucci “G.”

This unique partnership between De Sole and Ford, known in the industry as “Dom/Tom”, continues to this day with the founding of Tom Ford International and De Sole’s role as Chairman of the same.

How does De Sole see the challenges of Tom Ford and Sotheby’s today in the context of his lessons and insights from his earlier Gucci successes?

Can a new brand, starting from zero (Tom Ford) hope to replicate Gucci’s success? For Sotheby’s, can a publicly traded auction house successfully compete against a privately held competitor (Christie’s, owned by Gucci’s old corporate ally, Francois Pinault) and what are the challenges of Sotheby’s high end focus vs. Christie’s “high/low market” strategy and customer base? What role will technology play in both Tom Ford’s and Sotheby’s futures? How does China feature in all this?

The Stanford GSB Chapter of HK could not be more pleased to have Domenico De Sole share his insights, experience and wisdom on his extraordinary personal story and on the luxury goods industry, overall. We hope you can join us.

Speaker's Bio: Domenico De Sole
Mr. De Sole is currently Chairman of Sotheby’s (first joining as a director in 2013) and has been Chairman of Tom Ford International, LLC since its founding by Tom Ford (former creative director at Gucci) in 2005.

From 1995 to 2004, he served as the Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairman of the Management Board of Gucci Group NV, prior to which he acted as President, CEO  and Chairman of Gucci America as well as serving as COO of Gucci Group NV, having first joined the Group in 1984. While at Gucci, Mr. De Sole was instrumental in reestablishing the exclusivity and profitability of the Gucci brand and presided over the acquisition of such other luxury brands as Yves Saint Laurent, YSL Beauté, Sergio Rossi, Stella McCartney, Balenciaga, Boucheron, Alexander McQueen, and Bottega Veneta.

Mr. De Sole currently serves on the boards of The Gap, Lanificio Ermenegildo Zegna E Figli, and Newell Rubbermaid Inc and is a Senior Advisor to Sandbridge Capital LLC. He is a past director, inter alia, of The Procter & Gamble Company, Delta Air Lines Inc., Telecom Italia, and Bausch & Lomb Incorporated. In 2001, Mr. De Sole was honored with the “Special Achievement Award in Fashion and Industry“ by the National Italian American Foundation.

Mr. De Sole began his career as an attorney, was a Partner of Patton, Boggs LLP, specializing in tax law, prior to joining Gucci, one of his then-clients. Mr. De Sole holds a J.D. from the University of Rome and an LLM from the Harvard University School of Law, where he is a Member of the Advisory Board.