Like many of its Italian counterparts, Gucci began life as a quietly luxurious equestrian and leather goods brand - but has grown to become one of the most exciting and experimental houses on the modern fashion scene. In fact, such is the strength of the brand’s fame and aesthetic, that everything from its red-and-green motif, ‘GG’ logo and diamond print fabric are insanely recognised across the globe as Gucci hallmarks. Here’s how it got there…
After spending years cutting his teeth at heritage Italian luggage brands, Guccio Gucci opens his eponymous leather goods store on Via Vigna Nuova in Florence. His early business consists largely of fine saddles and equestrian accessories - leading to motifs which remain constants in Gucci collections to this day.
Sanctions against Italy lead to a shortage of leather. In an effort to find alternatives Gucci develops a woven hemp from Naples emblazoned with the brand’s first print - a series of interconnecting dark brown diamonds on a tan background.
Guccio’s three sons, Aldo, Vasco and Rodolfo, join the brand, helping to expand it to Rome with a store on Via Condotti.
A lack of materials after World War II leads to the introduction of pigskin and the creation of the famous Bamboo bag. Featuring treated Japanese bamboo handles, the patented design became immediately synonymous with the house.
Gucci’s first Milanese store opens on Via Montenapoleone and the green-red-green web is introduced as the company’s hallmark.
Shortly after the opening of the brand’s first New York boutique Guccio Gucci passes away aged 72. Despite this, the house’s expansion into the US is a huge success and Gucci flourishes internationally, gaining many high profile fans including Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy. The same year the iconic Gucci horse bit loafer is introduced.
Rodolfo Gucci assumes leadership of the company and it acquires official SpA designation. However, just one year later Rodolfo dies, passing the mantle to his son Maurizio.
The Gucci loafer becomes part of the Metropolitan Museum of the Art’s permanent collection.
Dawn Mello, formerly the president of Bergdorf Goodman, is appointed creative director and tasked with reviving Gucci’s flagging fortunes. With her come Richard Lambertson (design director) and Neil Barrett (men’s ready-to-wear designer). A 50% stake in the company is acquired by holding company Investcorp.
Tom Ford is appointed women’s ready-to-wear designer.
Maurizio Gucci sells his shares to Investcorp and ends the family’s involvement with the brand.
Dawn Mello departs Gucci to return to Bergdorf Goodman. Tom Ford replaces her as creative director, infusing the collections with an overt sex appeal and glamour not seen at any other contemporary high fashion houses and, in turn, transforming the brand's fortunes.
Domenico De Sole becomes CEO of the Gucci Group and begins reversing a decade of overexposure by bringing a series of franchises, licenses and sub-brands in house.
Pinault Printemps Redoute fights off LVMH to acquire a controlling share in Gucci.
De Sole and Tom Ford depart after failing to agree terms with PPR. Ford is replaced by Alessandra Facchinetti. Robert Polet, formerly of Unilever, becomes CEO of Gucci Group while Mark Lee, CEO of Yves Saint Laurent, becomes brand chief.
After two forgettable seasons Facchinetti leaves and Frida Giannini, director of handbags and accessories at Gucci since 2002, is promoted to the top job.
Gucci signs a long-term licensing agreement with P&G for the production and distribution of fragrances. As of 2020, Gucci now counts more than 60 scents in its portfolio.
The brand’s first television ad campaign, directed by David Lynch to promote the Gucci by Gucci fragrance, airs.
Patrizio di Marco joins from Bottega Veneta, succeeding Mark Lee as Gucci president and CEO.
Gucci Playground, an iPad app dedicated to childrenswear, launches.
Gucci celebrates its 90th birthday with the 1921 collection - a range of the house’s most famous bags in new fabrics and colourways, as well as accessories, watches and jewellery.