The history of Gucci

Gucci store, New York, 1985

Characterized by its Double G motif and elegant designs, Gucci has become an icon of luxury and is one of the most influential brands in the world of fashion. From Guccio Gucci to Alessandro Michele via Tom Ford, let's retrace the legendary journey of Gucci.

The origin of Gucci

The story begins in 1881 when Guccio Gucci, son of a leatherworker, was born in the city of Florence in Tuscany. The young Guccio spent part of his youth in Paris before settling in London. He then worked as a baggage handler at the Savoy hotel where he rubbed shoulders with high society. At that time, he became passionate about luxury leather goods and dreamed of creating his own brand. In 1921, he decided to return to Italy and opened a store in his hometown. Its immediate success results from a mixture of refined English aesthetics and Tuscan know-how. Guccio Gucci only works with high quality leather, but in 1947 he faced a leather shortage. The “Bamboo” bag and Diamante canvas were then created to replace leather. Gucci's popularity grew and Guccio's two sons, Rodolpho and Aldo, joined the family business.

The Gucci family

Second generation

After the Second World War, Rodolpho opened a boutique in Milan and launched the green-red-green striped band which would become the brand's signature. In 1953, Guccio died and his two sons took over the business and brought the brand to meteoric rise. In 1953, Gucci released its shoe line with the Horsebit moccasins, characterized by the horsebit detail borrowed from horse riding. Two years later, the Horsebit model was reinterpreted as a bag with the Horsebit 1955 bag. Gucci bags became very popular among stars, notably Jackie Kennedy who gave her name to the Gucci Jackie or even Grace Kelly who asked the brand to manufacture a scarf during a visit to Gucci in Monaco, the Flora model was created in 1966. After the line of shoes and accessories, it was ready-to-wear which was inaugurated and presented at the St Regis in 1970. During this decade, the brothers paid homage to their father by creating the legendary GG monogram inspired by the initials of Guccio Gucci. The 60s and 70s were a huge success for Gucci, the brand gained international notoriety and opened boutiques in Europe and Asia to meet growing demand.

Jackie Kennedy with her Gucci Jackie

Family feud

Since joining the family business, the sons have always been put in competition by their father who thought that this rivalry would push them to become better. This competition between the sons created tensions which were accentuated by the development of the brand. Indeed, the more the brand grew, the more the sons competed for their father's inheritance. In 1975, Aldo launched Gucci perfume and acquired 80% of the shares. This will be the trigger for a war which will involve sons and grandsons for more than 10 years. These quarrels greatly weaken Gucci, which is experiencing a period of decline. Mauricio Gucci, Rodolpho's son, then sold 50% of the shares to the investment fund Investcorp in 1988 before selling the remaining 50% five years later. Gucci no longer belongs to the Gucci family and will only remember its name.

The Renaissance

Now owned by Investcorp, Gucci must recover from the previous decade. In 1994, the brand placed Tom Ford as artistic director. The stylist presents glamorous and sexy collections, necklines, heels and underwear dress the models during the fashion shows. This bold and provocative risk-taking pleases and Gucci returns to the forefront. Ten years after his arrival, Tom Ford left the house and Frida Giannini took his place. Frida Giannini will keep the refined style of the house by reworking old models like the Bamboo or the Jackie. The brand once again conquered the hearts of the biggest stars like Eva Mendes, Angélina Jolie and Penélope Cruz.

Gucci campaign by Tom Ford

Modern times

After Tom Ford and Frida Giannini, Alessandro Michele will take the helm of artistic direction at Gucci. He will modernize the brand by breaking the codes. He offers very colorful, androgynous collections and collaborates with trans and Down syndrome models. But the brand is modernizing itself by making important decisions such as stopping fur or gender-neutral collections. These extravagant collections are not without consequences and the brand is subject to numerous controversies. The brand was banned from an advertising campaign in the United Kingdom in 2016, the following year it was accused of cultural appropriation and even black face in 2019. Alessandro Michele will be replaced in 2023 by Sabato de Sarno who will present collections less extravagant, more refined and in keeping with the fundamentals of the house.

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