The Story Of Gucci

The Story of Gucci

Gucci was founded by Guccio Gucci in the early 1920s. As an immigrant in Paris and then London, Guccio made a living working in luxurious hotels and was impressed with the affluent luggage he saw the guests carrying. Inspired particularly by the elevated lifestyle he witnessed in the Savoy Hotel in London, on his return to Italy he decided to merge this refined style of living with the exclusive skills of his native craftsmen.  He began by selling leather bags to horsemen in the 1920s. In 1921, Guccio Gucci opened a leather goods company and small luggage store in his native Florence.


Together with his sons, Gucci expanded his company to include stores in Milan and Rome as well as additional shops in Florence, selling his finely crafted leather accessories as well as silks and knitwear featuring his signature logo. Within a few years the label was enjoying growing success, the cosmopolitan international elite holidaying in Florence converged on Gucci’s bottega on a quest for his equestrian inspired Gucci shoes, bags, trunks, gloves and belts. Many of Guccio’s Italian clients were local horse-riding aristocrats, and their demand for riding gear led Gucci to develop its unique Horsebit icon – an enduring symbol of the fashion house and its increasingly innovative design aesthetic.
In 1940s Gucci was faced with a shortage of foreign supplies during the difficult years of Fascist dictatorship in Italy. Gucci began to experiment with atypical luxury materials, like hemp, linen and jute. One of its artisans’ most subtle innovations was burnishing cane to create the handle of the new Bamboo Bag, whose curvy side was inspired by a saddle’s shape. An ingenious example of “necessity as the mother of invention”, the bamboo became the first of Gucci’s many iconic products. A favorite of royalty and celebrities alike, the bag with burnished handle remains a huge favorite today.


During the Fifties, Gucci again found equestrian inspiration with its trademark green-red-green web stripe, derived from a traditional saddle girth. It became an instant success and an instantly recognizable hallmark of the brand. Throughout the brand’s history the Web stripe has appeared on an array of products. In modern collections the Web’s stripes have been morphed into various colors, materials and sizes. During this period Gucci opened its stores in Milan and New York, Gucci and started to build its global presence as a symbol of modern luxury.


With the passing of Guccio Gucci in 1953, his sons Aldo, Vasco, Ugo and Rodolfo took over the business. The brothers took the successful luggage business to new heights, opening stores round the world and making the Gucci name synonymous with celebrity and chic. Gucci products quickly became internationally renowned for their enduring style and were valued by movie icons and elite figures in the era of the Jet Set. Jackie Kennedy Onassis sported the Gucci shoulder bag, which later became known as the Jackie O. Created in the late 1950s, the Jackie O bag was given its name after being photographed numerous times on the arm of its namesake while she was working as a consulting editor at Doubleday. Elizabeth Taylor, Samuel Beckett and Peter Sellers carried the slouchy unisex Hobo Bag.


After a personal request from the Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly, the now famous Gucci scarf print Flora was created. Flora was immensely popular amongst European women, who held it in such high regard, that they passed this loyalty onto their daughters. One was Princess Caroline of Monaco who adopted her mother’s scarf print into her daily wardrobe.  Gucci’s classic moccasin with Horsebit hardware became part of the permanent collection at the Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Additionally, Gucci answered a personal request by Grace Kelly by creating the now famous Flora silk print scarf for the Monaco princess.


By the early 1960s Gucci had adopted the celebrated double interlocking G logo, creating yet another trademark insignia for the company. Single or double “G”s were squared off and used as fastenings for bags; these were developed and produced at Gucci’s own forge at its historic workshop on Via Delle Caldaie in Florence. The double G’s were soon transferred onto the internationally recognized cotton canvas luggage. The GG monogram solidified the company’s fame and the Gucci name was carried around the globe in the much-photographed company of movie stars, aristocrats and socialites. The GG logo became a status symbol and hallmark of high glamour, luxury and desirability. Furthermore, throughout

The 1960s, Gucci continued its global expansion opening Gucci shops in London and USA. In 1970s,

Gucci continued its global expansion and set its sights on the Far East. Stores opened in Tokyo and Hong Kong. The company developed its first ready-to-wear collections, featuring GG printed shirts or GG buttoned fur-trim coats. The brand became famous for its unique mix of innovative audacity and legendary Italian quality and craftsmanship. Gucci icons were re-invented in new shapes or colors – burning the GG logo through suede – using ever more luxurious materials, like baby crocodile coats with sterling silver snake head buckles. In 1977, its Beverly Hills flagship was revamped with a private Gucci Gallery, where privileged VIPs like Rita Hayworth or Michael Caine could browse for $10,000 bags with detachable gold and diamond chain or platinum fox bed throws. In 1981 Gucci staged its first ever runway show in Florence.

In 1982, Gucci became a public limited company, and leadership passed to Rodolfo’s son, Maurizio Gucci, who held 50 percent of the company’s shares. In 1987, Investcorp, a Bahrain-based investment company, began buying into Gucci, eventually competing the purchase all of the company’s shares in the early Nineties. In 1994 Tom Ford became creative director of Gucci and infused the luxury brand with a sense of daring and provocation that resonated with celebrity and the fashion world. The stiletto, and silk cutout jersey dresses with metallic hardware details became instant icons of Ford’s uniquely glamorous vision.

Domenico De Sole was appointed CEO in 1995, and Gucci made the highly successful transformation to a fully public company. Gucci was named “European Company of the year 1998” by the European Business Press Federation for its economic and financial performance, strategic vision and management quality. In 1999, Gucci entered into a strategic alliance with Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, transforming itself from a single brand company into a multi-brand luxury group.

In 2000s Gucci achieved astounding global success and was named the most desirable luxury brand in the world. By exploring Gucci’s rich heritage, incomparable craftsmanship and fashion allure, the brand successfully fused its rich history with the present—creating compelling collections that reached both commercial and critical success. Throughout this decade, key house icons, like the Flora pattern, the Jackie Bag and The Bamboo Bag, were reimagined and rediscovered by a fresh, new audience. In 2002 Frida Giannini, previously handbag designer for Fendi, joined the label’s accessories department, contributing bold reinventions of house signatures as part of Ford’s design team. In 2010s Gucci continued to focus on strengthening the values upon which its enviable reputation has been founded for its almost 90-year history: exclusivity, quality, made in Italy, Italian craftsmanship, and fashion authority. Setting it apart from its competitors, Gucci is able to claim a unique duality in its brand positioning pairing modernity and heritage, innovation and craftsmanship, trendsetting and sophistication. In 2010 a sporty, contemporized version of the Bamboo bag, the New Bamboo; the new Gucci 1973 line of bags, and the Gucci by Gucci Sport Pour Homme fragrance and Gucci Guilty women’s scent were launched. In 2011Gucci celebrated its 90th anniversary

At the beginning of the new decade, the Florentine House launched two relevant projects which are united by a common philosophy of respect and care towards others, values that have been part of Gucci’s DNA and that of its employees since the company was founded: a worldwide eco-friendly program to reduce its impact on the environment, and the launch of Gucci’s first children’s collection, which further highlights the brand’s reputation for quality and relevance by being exclusively made in Italy.