February 10, 2007

Gucci

And the man behind the brand is...
Guccio Gucci

In the 1970s the Gucci shop in New York City earned the title, bestowed by New York magazine, as “The Rudest Store in New York.” Gucci management was so “upset” by the customer abuse detailed within that the author was sent a $500 floral bouquet. After all, Guccio Gucci had cultivated snob appeal from the time he opened his first store in Florence, Italy in 1922.

Guccio was born in Florence in 1881 where his family managed a struggling straw hat factory. He had no intention of fighting his father’s battles and left for London at the turn of the century. Gucci found a job at the world famous Savoy Hotel where he was waiter to the rich and famous for three years. On the job Gucci paid studious attention to what the glamorous patrons wore and how they spent their money.

When World War I ended Gucci was ready to implement his ideas.
He learned the leather goods business with an Italian firm called Franzi and then opened Gucci’s. From the start Gucci specialized in the highest quality leather luggage and handbags, many of his designs based on what he had seen in the Savoy. Gucci bags traveled on the arms of international trendsetters who had stopped in Florence to view the city’s many art treasures.

Guccio Gucci created a linked GG symbol that resembled a jointed mouth bit for a horse and equine motifs became a Gucci trademark. The signature Gucci red and green stripe was borrowed from horse blankets. The Gucci trademark was internationally registered in 1953, launching an almost continuous barrage of lawsuits against Gucci knock-offs.

1953 was a landmark year for Gucci in other ways as well. Gucci opened its first New York store in a small nook in the Sherry Netherland Hotel, bringing the elegant Gucci moccasin and hand-stitched glove and other desirable luxury items to the United States. Americans would learn the name Gucci from movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly and Kim Novak who were some of Gucci’s best customers. But they would never get a chance to know Guccio Gucci; he passed away in 1953.

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