Next year, 2021, will mark 100 years since the creation of one of the most iconic fashion houses of all time: Gucci.
Synonymous with fine Italian craftsmanship, luxurious tailoring, and impeccable attention to detail, we take a look at Gucci’s story and the brand’s impressive evolution from a small leather goods store to global fashion powerhouse.
Guccio Gucci, the son of an Italian leather craftsman, was born in 1881 in Florence, Tuscany. In his early teenage years, Gucci worked as a lift operator at London’s Savoy hotel, where he was inspired by the luxury luggage owned by guests. Shortly thereafter he returned to Tuscany to work for a luggage designer, before continuing the family trade and opening a luxury leather goods store.
1921 - THE COMPANY IS FOUNDED
Guccio Gucci opened a leather goods store in his hometown of Florence, selling bags and saddles to horseback riders.
1935/1936 - NEW MATERIALS
Sanctions placed on Italy at the time meant leather was more difficult to source, so other materials were used in the production of bags and travel accessories. As well as canvas handbags, travel luggage was made from hemp printed with Gucci’s now iconic diamond pattern. This was the beginning of Gucci’s success with luxury luggage and an homage to his early inspirations when working at the Savoy.
1938 - EXPANSION BEGINS
Hiring the finest artisan craftsmen and using only the best materials, Gucci opened a store in Rome now catering to an international clientele.
1947 - POST-WAR
Leather production resumed but the end of the war meant some materials were still hard to come by, which encouraged innovative designs from his carefully selected team of artisans. This led to Japanese bamboo being crafted into handles for handbags, a design still popular today.
1951 - FURTHER EXPANSION
Guccio’s son Rodolfo opened a Gucci store in Milan.
1953 - GUCCIO'S SONS INHERIT THE BUSINESS
The expansion continued with a store opening in New York. Shortly after opening, Guccio Gucci passed away and his sons Aldo, Ugo, Vasco, and Rodolfo inherited the company. This was the beginning of a decade of global growth, with stores opening in London and Paris.
1953 - THE HORSEBIT LOAFER IS CREATED
Drawing inspiration from the brand's history, Aldo Gucci created the horse-bit loafer shoe. Known today as one of the most recognisable Gucci designs, it was an instant success and the following years would see the horse-bit detail applied to handbags and accessories. The green and red stripe also began to be used around this time, which has since become a hallmark of the brand.
1961-1966 - CELEBRITIES EMBRACE GUCCI
Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, and Peter Sellers were all regularly seen wearing Gucci around this time. A Gucci bag favoured by Jackie Kennedy was renamed the Jackie, and a floral scarf was designed with Grace Kelly in mind.
1964 - THE INTERLOCKING 'G' LOGO IS INTRODUCED
Paying tribute to their late father, the family created a new brand logo, featuring two interlocking G's to symbolise Guccio's initials. Now synonymous with the brand, the logo continues to be used throughout their collections.
1972-1974 - GLOBAL EXPANSION CONTINUES
Gucci continued its global expansion with stores in Tokyo and Hong Kong.
1975 - EXPANDING PRODUCT LINES
Gucci launched its first fragrance.
1994 - TOM FORD IS APPOINTED CREATIVE DIRECTOR
After Guccio’s sons sold their shares of the company in the early nineties, American fashion designer Tom Ford became Creative Director, with his vision confirming the brand as one of the most luxurious labels in the fashion world. He would go on to work with Gucci for 10 years, before moving on to start his own label.
2006 - FRIDA GIANNINI APPOINTED CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Frida Giannini, who had already been appointed Creative Director of womenswear after Tom Ford’s departure, was promoted to Creative Director of all lines. She remained in the role until 2015.
2011 - CHILDRENSWEAR COLLECTION IS DEBUTED
Gucci expanded their collections to include Gucci Kids, combining imaginative and fun designs with luxurious elements from their womenswear and menswear collections.
2015 - ALESSANDRO MICHELE BECOMES CREATIVE DIRECTOR
The former Leather Goods Design Director, Alessandro Michele, stepped in with a unique talent, fusing his romantic and contemporary vision with the brand's rich 90-year history. Designed in-house, the childrenswear line has adopted a new look, heavily influenced by the revamped womenswear and menswear lines.
2017 - GUCCI ANNOUNCES IT WILL BE GOING FUR FREE
Speaking at the 2017 Kering Talk at the London College of Fashion, Gucci’s CEO Marco Bizzarri announced that the brand would be removing fur from all of Gucci collections as of Spring/Summer 2018, and hoped that other luxury brands would follow suit.
2020 - GUCCI GOES SEASON-LESS
Alessandro Michele announced that Gucci will drop from five annual catwalk shows to two season-less collections. This was triggered by the global pandemic but Michele cited fashion’s impact on nature as a leading reason for the decision.
All images by Gucci
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