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The Gucci Brand History

With the upcoming film ‘House of Gucci’ soon to hit screens and cinemas across the world, we’ve pre-emptively delved into the turbulent history of Gucci to explore their timeline that made it the iconic brand that it is today.

1921 | The Gucci Origin Story

Guccio Gucci was the founder and namesake of the Gucci brand. Born in Florence in 1881, as a young man he moved across Europe and found work as a porter at a luxurious rail travel service and a glamorous hotel in London.

The origin story of Gucci brand history. A portrait photograph of Guccio, taken in 1940.
Guccio Gucci | Photo from Wikimedia Commons

He became familiar with the fashion styles of high society, including their choice of travel bags, and within years he returned to Florence to pursue a new dream. 

He created the first ever ‘Gucci’ shop in 1921 — and the Gucci brand was born. Initially, he re-sold imported luggage, before earning enough to employ skilled artisans that could create his own bag designs and styles.

1925 | A Family Effort

Guccio’s sons soon joined the family business, bringing new product ideas and also a bold sense of confidence to expand the brand. They helped to push the brand further and helped Guccio to open shops in new locations in Italy.

1940’s | Wars and Shortages

The 1940’s brought trade embargoes, material shortages and big changes to Italy’s production priorities. 

Mussolini — the fascist Prime minister of Italy — invaded Ethiopia, which brought condemnation from other countries, and strict sanctions were then applied to Italian trade.

The beginning of World War 2 in 1939 brought further turmoil to Italy — and many skilled artisans, including those from Gucci, were ordered to put aside their usual work and create military uniforms instead of the glamorous products of their usual clientele.

1947 | That Bamboo Bag

The material shortages eventually inspired the creation of one of the most iconic Gucci’s handbags — the Gucci Bamboo Bag — which is often thought to be responsible for the meteoric rise of the Gucci brand during the 40’s.

A Gucci Bamboo Bag | Photo by Sailko on Wikimedia Commons

1950’s | New York, London, Paris and beyond

After conquering Italy and winning over hearts across the world, the Gucci brand began opening shops in different countries and continents — firmly cementing itself as a prominent international luxury fashion brand. Guccio died weeks after the opening of the first New York Gucci shop, the first shop to be established outside of Italy.

A piece of gucci brand history, the first ever store to be opened outside of Italy.
The first US Gucci store on 5th Ave, Midtown, NYC | Photo by Ajay Suresh on Wikimedia Commons

1980’s | The Gucci Family Feuds

The 1970’s — and 1980’s in particular — were a turbulent time for the Gucci brand history. After the death of their brother Vasco in 1974, the two remaining sons of Guccio — Aldo and Rodolfo — began vying for a higher percentage of control over the business.

Small rivalries soon turned into fiery family feuds, as the majority ownership of the company moved from Aldo, to his nephew Maurizio.

1990’s | Losing Control

To gain more control of the brand, family members had rushed through their own product concepts and expanded the Gucci empire past a breaking point, which changed the brand from being exclusive to being too readily available.

Brand interest began to fade because of this loss of exclusivity and in 1993 Maurizio eventually sold his last remaining shares to an investment company known as Investcorp. The last family ties to the House of Gucci had been severed and control now lay in the hands of other investors and directors.

Maurizio Gucci | Photo from Wikimedia Commons

1995 | A Horrific Twist

On a fateful March afternoon, in 1995, Maurizio Gucci was killed by a gunman outside his office in Milan. The gunman had been hired by Maurizio’s embittered ex-wife, Patricia Reggiani, and it took a further two years before evidence was collected and she was officially charged.

90’s, 00’s | Looking to the Future

Despite the devastating family feuds, the Gucci brand was revived throughout the 90’s and into the 21st century by a number of creative and highly talented individuals.

Dawn Mello had been hired in 1989 by Maurizio and is greatly responsible for re-establishing Gucci’s exclusivity by making a series of strict changes, like reducing the brand product inventory and even closing down a number of stores.

Tom Ford | Photo by Nicogenin on Wikimedia Commons

She also hired Tom Ford, who become Gucci’s creative director in 1994. Together with Domenico De Sole, both men are considered responsible for revitalising the Gucci brand.

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