Guccio Gucci was a famous fashion designer from Florence, Italy, and the founder of the world-renowned fashion brand ‘Gucci.’ His father was a humble leather craftsman. Guccio traveled to Paris and London to make a living. There, he was greatly influenced by the sophistication and style that he saw while working as a liftboy at the ‘Savoy Hotel.’ He returned to Italy and started helping his father make saddles and leather travel bags. As the demand for saddles reduced, he ventured into making various other accessories to keep his business going. He founded ‘Gucci’ as a family business and successfully combined the sophistication he had witnessed abroad with the craftsmanship of Italy. His brand became famous soon, and people from all over the world came to Florence to purchase items from him. He expanded his business to Rome and involved his sons in running the company. Even after his death, the business spread its wings and ‘Gucci’ became a leading brand. The overall management of the firm was transferred to his son Rodolfo and then to his grandson Maurizio. The company soon became a public limited company. Ultimately, it became a fully public company. ‘Gucci’ is now regarded as one of the world’s most desirable luxury brands.
Childhood & Early Life
Guccio was born on March 26, 1881, into a humble family in Florence, Tuscany, Kingdom of Italy. His father was a leather craftsman who worked in the industrial area of central Italy. Guccio left Italy in 1898 to travel to Paris and London in order to make a living.
He worked as a liftboy at the ‘Savoy Hotel’ in London when he was in his late teens. There, he came into contact with the upper crust of the British society. He was greatly influenced by the sophistication and style of the guests at the hotel and admired their bags and accessories that were mostly made by firms such as the London-based leather luxury goods brand ‘H.J. Cave & Sons.’
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Inspired by what he had seen in London and Paris, he returned to Florence and started helping his father make saddles and leather travel bags. As the demand for saddles reduced, with the advent of automobiles, he decided to make various other accessories to keep the business going.
In 1921, he founded the ‘House of Gucci’ as a family-owned business in Florence, with a manufacturing unit and a small leather accessories shop. He successfully combined the sophistication he had seen abroad with the craftsmanship of Italy. His shop sold leather bags and various other accessories designed by him and soon came to be known as a brand that offered high quality items and original designs.
He was known to employ the best of craftsmen from his neighborhood, with no compromise on quality. Since many of his clients were aristocrats on horseback, who came to him to buy riding gear, he adopted the horse bit as his iconic emblem. A lot of his designs were inspired by stirrups and other items of horse saddlery.
His brand became famous and people from all over came to Florence to purchase his items. In 1932, he created the loafer shoe with a glide snaffle, which was the first of its kind and soon became popular as casual footwear. By 1938, he had expanded his business to Rome and had involved his sons in running the company.
He experimented with different types of material, including hemp, linen, and jute, to come up with some of the most innovative designs. One of his famous designs of the 1940s was a bamboo bag in the shape of a saddle, with handles made from burnished cane.
He opened a store in Milan in 1951. This was followed by a branch in Manhattan, New York, US.
As his business expanded, he did not compromise on the quality of his items and always offered genuine designs. The company was at its peak when he passed away in 1953. His legacy was taken over by his sons. His brand has undergone a lot of changes since then. However, it is still considered to be one of the top global brands in fashion.
Awards & Achievements
Although he may not have won any significant awards, Guccio’s brand has won several awards.
He was married to Aida Calvelli and had six children. His sons, Vasco, Aldo, Ugo, and Rodolfo, joined his company. He lived at his family mansion near Rusper, West Sussex, England, till he died in 1953.
Following his death, his sons took over the business, with Rodolfo managing the company in Milan, Vasco supervising operations in Florence, and Aldo moving to New York to manage the overseas branch. The brand created by him continued to flourish and created iconic designs year after year, even after his death.
The company changed its logo to the double interlocking “G,” which signifies his name, in the mid-1960s and opened stores throughout Europe and America. The firm further expanded across Asia, Australia, and world over by the 1970s. Over the years, they included readymade garments in their range, along with accessories, according to the demands of consumers.
The overall management of the firm was transferred from Rodolfo to his son, Maurizio, in the 1980s. It became a public limited company. Later, it had to be sold to the multinational investment company ‘Investcorp,’ which bought most of the company’s shares in 1993.
The company ultimately became a fully public company and had many well-known CEOs. In 2007, ‘Nielsen’ named it the world’s most desirable luxury brand. Currently, the brand is fighting a battle against fakes in order to maintain its exclusivity.
Jackie Kennedy’s famous ‘Jackie O’ shoulder bag, Grace Kelly’s silk scarves, and Liz Taylor’s hobo bag were all designed by ‘Gucci.’