If there was a survey asking people which fashion brand put Italian design on the world map, many people would say Gucci.
Gucci is a brand that is synonymous with Hollywood superstars and other kinds of celebrities and is one of the most mentioned brands in movies and songs. It is not unusual to hear a singer reference a Gucci bag or sun glasses in a song or a character in a movie mention their Gucci attire. Gucci is a brand that is associated with pure luxury and class. Though like many luxury brands, it started from humble beginnings.
Gucci was founded in Florence Italy in the year 1920 by Guccio Gucci, born in 1881 his father was a maker of leather goods from northern Italy. His childhood and teenage years were normal in many ways in that he never lacked any basic needs but was certainly never exposed to the luxury’s his brand would come to represent.
When he reached adulthood, Guccio Gucci travelled all over Western Europe looking for work. He stayed in Paris for a few years where he worked odd jobs as a waiter, concierge, and even as a dishwasher. After realizing that Paris couldn’t offer more opportunities for him, he packed his bags and relocated to London. The year he moved to England is not well known but it is estimated that he was still in his early or mid twenties.
In England, he managed to land a job as a lift attendant in the prestigious Savoy Hotel and here Gucci was exposed to high fashion and the world of affluence as he attended to the rich and wealthy. He in particular paid close attention to their travelling bags. When he went back to Florence, Italy at the age of 40, he had gathered enough high fashion knowledge and style to set up his own leather goods company. This venture was considered rather strange by many people that knew him because Guccio Gucci had tried so hard earlier in his life to deviate away from the leather industry that his father was involved in. For a few though, it was a pleasant surprise because it was Guccio following in his father’s footsteps.
At first, his leather goods were tailored towards horsemen. He would make leather saddles for them. The red and green Gucci colors that we know today were inspired by Gucci’s love of the sport of horseracing. After gaining notoriety in making quality saddles, he then expanded into the luxury leather bags niche where he established himself as an excellent craftsman. He did this through incorporating his sons into his business and always hiring the best artisans. When the Second World War broke out across Europe, Guccio Gucci experienced a shortage of leather and other supplies.
This led to the birth of the iconic bamboo handle bag. Gucci’s quick thinking and adaptability to changing circumstances made him a force to reckon with in the leather design and fashion industry. After the war together with his sons, he went on to set up stores all over Italy and other cities in Europe.
In 1953 Gucci Gucci passed away at the age of 71. Though gone, his legacy and company continued to live on and flourish through his sons.
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