Founded in 1921 by Guccio Gucci, Gucci is an Italian luxury fashion brand. According to BusinessWeek in 2009, Gucci was at the 41st spot in their Top Global 100 Brands, and they are the highest-selling Italian brand. As of today, Gucci has over 520 directly operated stores all around the world, and in 2018, the company grabbed the 18th spot in the Forbes list of World’s Most Valuable Brands List. In this article, we are going to talk about the history of Gucci and how they reached the status that they have today.
History of Gucci
Guccio Gucci was born in March 1881. He used to work as a porter at the Savoy hotel in London, and that’s where he first became interested in glamorous luggage and suitcases that the guests have. After some time, Guccio decided to return to Florence to work for Franzi, which is a tony luggage brand. After gaining some experience, Guccio ventured out on his own and opened his own eponymous leather goods shop in Florence.
When he was just starting his business, he initially made saddles and other accessories that are used by horseback riders. He made sure that he always crafted it from the finest Italian leathers. As his designs continued to expand, his popularity grew even further with English aristocrats becoming his regular customers.
In 1938, he urged his three sons, Vasco, Aldo, and Rodolfo, to join his business. They all agreed, and they were given the task to expand their brand’s presence. Which is why they brought Gucci to Rome and Milan.
In the mid-1930s, sourcing leather became hard to source because of sanctions against Italy. This is why Guccio began to experiment with alternative textiles. This resulted in the creation of Gucci’s first signature print, which is the small interconnected diamonds that has a dark brown color and woven into a tan hemp fabric. In 1947, they introduced the iconic Bamboo Bag because, during that time, Gucci and other artisans were finding it hard to source materials towards the end of World War II. He eventually discovered that he could use Japanese bamboo to make unique bag handles. He treated it with a unique and patented method, and since then, the burnished bamboo handles became synonymous with Gucci.
The Golden Age of Gucci
In 1953, just days after Gucci opened their first boutique in New York, Guccio Gucci passed away. Despite Guccio’s untimely passing, the company he established still continued to flourish, and their arrival in the US market was warmly welcomed by American consumers.
American celebrities such as Peter Sellers and Elizabeth Taylor were both fans of Gucci Totes. In fact, even Jackie Kennedy herself carried a Gucci purse in public, and that purse was swiftly renamed “The Jackie.” Even Grace Kelly stopped into a Gucci store to get herself a Bamboo Bag. Rodolfo Gucci was overwhelmed that the princess of Monaco wanted a Gucci item for herself. That’s why, as a token of gratitude Rodolfo Gucci asked Vittorio Accornero to design a floral scarf for Grace Kelly. This was also the time when the logo of two interlocking G’s was created, and it acted as a sweet homage to the company’s founder, Guccio Gucci.
The Reincarnation of Gucci
When the ‘70s came, Gucci looked to expand to the east, where they opened stores in Tokyo and Hong Kong, however, their golden era seemed to be over. This is because the Gucci brothers were constantly arguing to the point when Rodolfo Gucci’s son, Aritzio, have taken over the company and ousted his own uncle, Aldo Gucci, and bringing the company close to bankruptcy.
But Gucci’s reincarnation began with the appointment of Dawn Mello as the company’s creative director in 1989. She was the former president of Bergdorf Goodman, and she brought with her a team of fashion geniuses like Richard Lamberston as the design director, Tom Ford designed women’s ready-to-wear clothes, and Neil Barrett designed menswear. Sadly, Dawn Mello returned to her former position at Bergdorf in 1994.
That is why Tom Ford became the one who is hailed as Gucci’s actual savior because when he took over Dawn Mello’s position at Gucci, he decided to infuse the band with an explicit sex appeal that couldn’t be seen on any runway during that time. They released sexy stilettos and slinky slip dresses that contrasted the minimalist trends of the ‘90s, and their designs were warmly embraced by consumers.
As he became more well-known in the business, Tom Ford decided to bring in the next generation of fashion masterminds such as Carine as the stylist and Mario Testino as the photographer. The three of them revolutionized luxury fashion advertising by publishing several skin-baring and scandalous images. During this time, Gucci was able to boost its sales and turned into a $10 billion fashion icon.
In 1997, there are over 26 Gucci stores all over the world, along with several licensing agreements. Tom Ford became an essential part of the process of decision making when Gucci decided to acquire Bottega Veneta, Sergio Rossi, Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, and Boucheron.
However, when 2003 came, French conglomerate Pinault-Printemps-Redoute decided to gain 60 percent of the Gucci group stock. After a year, Tom Ford decided not to renew his contract with Gucci, and his last spring collection with the brand became an ultimate success. In 2005, Tom Ford was replaced by Frida Giannini, where she became the creative director for both men’s and women’s ready-to-wear and accessories. But after nine years, Frida Giannini and Gucci’s CEO, Patrizio di Marco announced that they would be leaving the company. Marco Bizzarri replaced Patrizio di Marco as the company’s CEO.
In 2017, Bizzarri announced that they would not be using any more fur in any of their collections that will be released 2018.