A Modest Beginning
Its hard to believe that such a prestigious international fashion icon had such humble beginnings! In 1906, Guccio Gucci started a small saddlery shop in Florence, Italy. Born into a family with a history of leather making, Guccio was a talented leather craftsman with an eye for European design flair.
Guccio started out designing leather horseman bags during the days of horse-drawn carriages. As the modes of transportation evolved, he eventually expanded his offerings to include premium leather luggage. It wasnt until 1938 that the first Gucci retail shop opened its doors in Rome on the Via Condotti. Many of the original products sold at that first shop were handcrafted by Guccio himself.
Growth of a Fashion Legend
The universally recognizable leather Gucci bag with its bamboo handle was first introduced to the fashion world in 1947. Several years later, the brands distinctive red striped webbing became another of its hallmarks. The 1950s was a banner decade for the Gucci brand, during which Guccio developed many of the timeless classics that remain popular today. In addition to legendary handbags, he continued to craft luxury travel pieces, footwear, ties, and other accessories.
When founder Guccio Gucci died in 1953, his sons capitalized on his stellar reputation by opening stores in several prominent cities throughout the country, including Beverly Hills, Paris, Palm Beach, London, and Tokyo. Throughout the 1960s, the brand enjoyed celebrity-endorsed prominence as such notable figures as Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Peter Sellers, and Jackie Kennedy were seen wearing Gucci handbags and apparel. Rodolfo Gucci even designed the custom Flora foulard especially for Grace Kelly. The famous GG logo was developed to commemorate the memory of founded Guccio Gucci, and continues on as the companys trademark today.
In spite of the fashion houses prestigious image and international brand recognition, internal conflict and mismanagement threatened the companys welfare. The Gucci family was notorious for their heated debates, clashing personalities, and rash business decisions. By the late 1970s, the fashion house was dangerously close to bankruptcy. One of the brothers, Maurizio Gucci, eventually sold the struggling business to Investcorp, a holding company, in 1993.
A New Beginning
It wasnt until the 1990s, when Tom Ford was named Guccis new CEO, that the fashion house enjoyed a resurgence of its original popularity and prestige. Fords chic new collection in 1995, combined with the pop-culture appeal of celebrity endorsements by the likes of Madonna and Drew Barrymore, helped the brand regain its sense of exclusivity. Today, Gucci is a publicly traded company with a diverse array of designer Gucci handbags, luggage, wallets, sunglasses, apparel, colognes, and footwear, among other offerings.