From modest beginnings at the end of the 19th century, the Gucci company became one of the world’s most successful manufacturers of high-end leather goods, clothing, and other fashion products. As an immigrant in Paris and then London, working in exclusive hotels, young Guccio Gucci (1881–1953) was impressed with the luxurious luggage he saw sophisticated guests bring with them. Upon returning to his birthplace of Florence, a city distinguished for high-quality materials and skilled artisans, he established a shop in 1920 that sold fine leather goods with classic styling. Although Gucci organized his workrooms for industrial methods of production, he maintained traditional aspects of fabrication. Initially Gucci employed skilled workers in basic Florentine leather crafts, attentive to finishing. With expansion, machine stitching was a production method that supported construction.
Together with three of his sons, Aldo Gucci (1905–1990), Vasco Gucci (1907–1975), and Rodolfo Gucci (1912–1983), Gucci expanded the company to include stores in Milan and Rome as well as additional shops in Florence. Gucci’s stores featured such finely crafted leather accessories as handbags, shoes, and his iconic ornamented loafer as well as silks and knitwear in a signature pattern. The Gucci loafer is the only shoe in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The company made handbags of cotton canvas rather than leather during World War II as a result of material shortages. The canvas, however, was distinguished by a signature double-G symbol combined with prominent red and green bands. After the war, the Gucci crest, which showed a shield and armored knight surrounded by a ribbon inscribed with the family name, became synonymous with the city of Florence.
Aldo and Rodolfo Gucci further expanded the company’s horizons in 1953 by establishing offices in New York City. Film stars and jet-set travelers to Italy during the 1950s and 1960s brought their glamour to Florence, turning Gucci’s merchandise into international status symbols. Movie stars posed in Gucci’s clothing, accessories, and footwear for lifestyle magazines around the world, contributing to the company’s growing reputation.
Gucci’s distinctive lines made its products among the most frequently copied in the world in the early 2000s. Pigskin, calf, and imported exotic animal skins were subjected to various methods of fabrication. Waterproof canvas and satin were used for evening bags. Bamboo was first used to make handbag handles by a process of heating and molding in 1947, and purses made with a shoulder strap and snaffle-bit decoration were introduced in 1960. In 1964 Gucci’s lush butterfly pattern was custom-created for silk foulards, followed by equally luxuriant floral patterns. The original Gucci loafer was updated by a distinctive snaffle-bit ornament in 1966, while the “Rolls-Royce” luggage set was introduced in 1970. Watches, jewelry, ties, and eyewear were then added to the company’s product lines. A particularly iconic touch, introduced in 1964, was the use of the double-G logo for belt buckles and other accessory decorations.
The company prospered through the 1970s, but the 1980s were marked by internal family disputes that brought Gucci to the brink of disaster. Rodolfo’s son Maurizio took over the company’s direction after his father’s death in 1983, and dismissed his uncle Aldo—who eventually served a prison term for tax evasion. Maurizio proved to be an unsuccessful president; he was compelled to sell the family-owned company to Investcorp, a Bahrain-based company, in 1988. Maurizio disposed of his remaining stock in 1993. Tragically, Maurizio was murdered in Milan in 1995, and his former wife, Patrizia Reggiani, was convicted of hiring his killers. Meanwhile, the new investors promoted the American-educated Domenico De Sole from the position of family attorney to president of Gucci America in 1994 and chief executive in 1995.
The company had previously brought in Dawn Mello in 1989 as editor and ready-to-wear designer in order to reestablish its reputation. Well aware of Gucci’s tarnished image and the value of its name brand, Mello hired Tom Ford in 1990 to design a ready-to-wear line. He was promoted to the position of creative director in 1994. Before Mello returned to her post as president of the American retailer Bergdorf Goodman, she initiated the return of Gucci’s headquarters from the business center of Milan to Florence, where its craft traditions were rooted. There she and Ford reduced the number of Gucci products from twenty thousand to a more reasonable five thousand.
Tom Ford came to the foundering company with vision and style. Having the strong support of Dominico De Sole, Ford wished to maintain a sense of the company’s history while updating Gucci’s trademarks. In 1994 Ford became responsible for creative direction, and by 1996 he directed all aspects of the company—including ready-to-wear clothing, visual merchandising, packaging, interior design, and advertising. Ford and De Sole struggled to restore the former reputation of Gucci, while redirecting the growing brand to a new level for the market of the late 1990s.
There were seventy-six Gucci stores around the world in 1997, along with numerous licensing agreements. Ford was instrumental in the process of decision-making with De Sole when the Gucci Group acquired Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Bottega Veneta, Boucheron, Sergio Rossi, and, in part-ownership with Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga. By 2001 Ford and De Sole shared the responsibility for major business decisions, while Ford concurrently directed design at Yves Saint Laurent as well as at Gucci.
The French conglomerate Pinault-Printemps-Redouté, however, gained ownership of 60 percent of the Gucci Group’s stock in 2003. Women’s Wear Daily then announced the departure of both Domenico De Sole and Tom Ford from the Gucci Group when their contracts expired in April 2004. The last spring collection under the direction of Ford and De Sole was a critical and commercial success. Amid widespread speculation in the fashion press about Ford’s heir, the company announced in March 2004 that he would be replaced by a team of younger designers promoted from the ranks of the company’s staff.
In 2005, Frida Giannini was appointed as the creative director for women’s ready-to-wear and accessories, previously joining Gucci in 2002. In 2006, she also became the creative director for men's ready-to-wear and the entire Gucci label.
A turnaround of the company devised in the late 1980s made Gucci a global contender and notable fashion label. In October 1995 Gucci went public and had its first initial public offering on the AMEX and NYSE for $22 per share. November 1997 also proved to be a successful year as Gucci acquired a watch licensee, Severin-Montres, and renamed it Gucci Timepieces. The firm was named "European Company of the Year 1998" by the European Business Press Federation for its economic and financial performance, strategic vision as well as management quality. Gucci world offices and headquarters are in Florence, Milan, Paris, London, Hong Kong, Japan, and New York. PPR headquarters are in Paris.
In 1989, Maurizio managed to persuade Dawn Mello, whose revival of New York's Bergdorf Goodman in the 1970s made her a star in the retail business, to join the newly formed Gucci Group as Executive Vice President and Creative Director Worldwide. At the helm of Gucci America was Domenico De Sole, a former lawyer who helped oversee Maurizio’s takeover of ten 1987 and 1989. The last addition to the creative team, which already included designers from Geoffrey Beene and Calvin Klein, was a young designer named Tom Ford.
Raised in Texas and New Mexico, he had been interested in fashion since his early teens but only decided to pursue a career as a designer after dropping out of Parsons School of Design in 1986 as an architecture major. Dawn Mello hired Ford in 1990 at the urging of his partner, writer and editor Richard Buckley.
In the early 1990s, Gucci underwent what is now recognized as the poorest time in the company's history. Maurizio riled distributors, Investcorp shareholders, and executives at Gucci America by drastically reining in on the sales of the Gucci Accessories Collection, which in the United States alone generated $110 million in revenue every year. The company’s new accessories failed to pick up the slack, and for the next three years the company experienced heavy losses and teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. Maurizio was a charming man who passionately loved his family's business, but after four years most of the company's senior managers agreed that he was incapable of running the company. His management had had an adverse effect on the desirability of the brand, product quality, and distribution control. He was forced to sell his shares in the company to Investcorp in August 1993. Dawn Mello returned to her job at Bergdorf Goodman less than a year after Maurizio’s departure, and the position of creative director went to Tom Ford, then just 32 years old. Ford had worked for years under the direction of Maurizio and Mello and wanted to take the company’s image in a new direction. De Sole, who had been elevated to President and Chief Executive Officer ofGucci Group NV, realized that if Gucci was to become a profitable company, it would require a new image, and so he agreed to pursue Ford’s vision.
In early 1999 the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, headed by Bernard Arnault, increased its shareholdings in Gucci with a view to a takeover. Domenico De Sole was incensed by the news and declined Arnault’s request for a spot on the board of directors, where he would have access to Gucci’s confidential earnings reports, strategy meetings, and design concepts. De Sole reacted by issuing new shares of stock in an effort to dilute the value of Arnault’s holdings. He also approached French holding company Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR) about the possibility of forming a strategic alliance. Francois Pinault, the company’s founder, agreed to the idea and purchased 37 million shares in the company, or a 40% stake. Arnault’s share was diluted to a paltry 20%, and a legal battle ensued to challenge the legitimacy of the new Gucci-PPR partnership, with the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom representing Gucci. Courts in the Netherlands ultimately upheld the PPR deal, as it did not violate that country's business laws. The second largest shareholder is Crédit Lyonnais with 11%. As of September 2001 a settlement agreement was put into place between Gucci Group, LVMH, and PPR.
Following Ford's departure, Gucci Group retained three designers to continue the success of the company's flagship label: John Ray, Alessandra Facchinetti and Frida Giannini, all of whom had worked under Ford's creative direction. Facchinetti was elevated to Creative Director of Womenswear in 2004 and designed for two seasons before leaving the company. Ray served as Creative Director of Menswear for three years. 32-year-old Giannini, who had been responsible for designing men's and women's accessories, currently serves as Creative Director for the entire brand.
Frida Giannini, formerly Creative Director of accessories, is named sole Creative Director in 2006. In 2009, Patrizio di Marco replaces Mark Lee as CEO of Gucci.
Gucci’s president and chief executive officer Patrizio di Marco revealed that Gucci is set to launch a children’s line in June 2010. The line will initially be unveiled in Italy and to 40 stores around the world. Frida Giannini serves as the creative director of the line. Giannini has been applauded on her fresh, feminine take on contemporary fashion. Born in Rome in 1972 to an architect father and art history professor mother she studied fashion design at Rome's Fashion Academy. Once she completed her education she went on to apprentice at a small-scale fashion house. In 1997 Giannini began a career at fashion house Fendi, where after just three seasons of designing for ready-to-wear she was promoted to designer of leather goods. In 2002 she moved to Gucci as director of handbags, and in 2004 was promoted to designer of all accessories. A year later in 2005 the designer was promoted to creative director of women's ready-to-wear at Gucci, in addition to her role as designer of accessories. In 2006 Giannini was named creative director of the label when she became responsible for design of menswear. In addition to clothing design, she has also developed retail concepts for Gucci stores, and creative control of advertising.
American Motors Corporation
Aldo Gucci expanded into new markets including an agreement with American Motors Corporation (AMC). The 1972 and 1973 AMC Hornet compact "Sportabout" station wagon became one of the first American cars to offer a special luxury trim package created by a famous fashion designer. The Gucci cars sported boldly striped green, red, and buff upholstery and on the door panels, as well as the designer's emblems and exterior color selections. American Motors also offered a Pierre Cardin Edition of its Javelin automobile.
In 1979 and 1980, a Miami-based aftermarket company offered the Cadillac Seville by Gucci edition. The exterior included a "facing double G" Gucci logo, an emblem actually featuring Guccio Gucci’s initials, as a hood ornament and the c-pillar covered vinyl roof. The interior had a headliner of the logo and headrests adorned with the logo as well. The dashboard carried the "Gucci script" logo in bold lettering. Inside the trunk was a full set of Gucci luggage.
Ford Motor Company
A 1989 Gucci Series Lincoln Town Car was scheduled to be offered, per pricing guides, but never came to fruition. Lincoln offered Emilio Pucci, Bill Blass, Gianni Versace, Hubert de Givenchy, and Valentino designer editions during the 1970s and 1980s.
Gucci has had a partnership with UNICEF since 2005. Gucci stores worldwide donate a percentage of the sales for special collections made specifically for UNICEF to go toward the United Nations Children's Fund. The annual Gucci Campaign to Benefit UNICEF supports education, healthcare, protection and clean water programs for orphans and children affected by HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. For the campaign in 2009, Michael Roberts promoted a children's book, "Snowman in Africa" with proceeds going to UNICEF. In five years, Gucci donated over $7 million to UNICEF. Gucci is the largest corporate donor to UNICEF's "Schools for Africa" that was established in 2004 by UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and the Hamburg Society. Its goal is to increase access to basic schooling for all, with a special emphasis on children orphaned by HIV/AIDS and children living in extreme poverty.
In 1998 Guinness World Records cited the Gucci "Genius Jeans" as the most expensive pair of jeans in existence. These jeans were distressed, ripped and covered with African beads and were offered for sale for US$3,134 in Milan.
This record has since been surpassed in June 2005 by Levi Strauss & Co.'s 115-year-old 501® jeans that was sold to an anonymous Japanese collector for $60,000.
History of Gucci Watches
Guccio Gucci, son of an Italian trader founded the House of Gucci in Florence in 1906. Guccio, an extraordinary craftsman, started selling luxury goods in the 1920s. In 1938, Gucci opened a boutique in Rome. After Guccio's death in 1953, his son, Aldo expanded the company by opening more stores. In 1953, New York got its first Gucci store and by the late '60s, more such stores were launched in London, Paris and Tokyo. Gucci continued to be one of the leading luxury brands until the late '70s. After that a string of devastating business decisions led the company to the brink of bankruptcy.
To gain its lost glory, the brand made its entrance into the watch market once again in the 1990's. This step was taken to put emphasis on their place in the fashion market. Gucci watches commenced its production in 1997 by means of an attitude based entirely on advanced quality, precision and thought to detail. Gucci pooled its creative skills in the midst of an unparalleled accuracy of Swiss craftsmanship to produce Gucci watches.
In the same year 1997, Gucci Group got hold of the operating assets of the 'Severin Montres Group' (being the world's leading manufacturers and distributors of watches) and fashioned its first Timepieces. To gain an upper edge in the market, the group went on to take some bold steps in the form of mergers and acquisitions in 1999. It bought 'Yves Saint Laurent Couture' and 'Sanofi Beaute' and also claimed a 70% stake of Sergio Rossi.
This move provided Gucci with a strong base in the form of market coverage and it got a "prepared" market to launch its watches. The plan to take control of the whole market got a boost in the year 2000 when it acquired Boucheron International group. It created a ripple effect in the market by securing license rights to run 'Yves Saint Laurent Couture' watches.
All these moves not only placed it in a stronger position but also replicated Gucci's promise to be a leader in the worldwide watch market. By initiating such steps, Gucci made a place for itself in the luxury goods market as well. Gucci watches quickly earn recognition as each watch are mark of a distinctive style by means of a fresh edge and urbane flare.
Gucci watches are largely procured by fashionable men and women who appreciate its design immensely even without taking care of its movement and an array of utilities. Right from the beginning, it has presented only the fashionable watches to win over the hearts of youths.
Stainless steel, sapphire crystal and soft silver are some of the major constituents, characterizing the appeal of the brand. Soft silver is still extensively put into use to fashion some of the model's dial. Its model 3900, launched to nullify another rival's product, possesses a fabric wristlet. Now when a niche has been created for its products, its watches presents sophisticatedly designed timepieces, standing at the very summit of excellence. They are churning out watches, both exciting and seductive, of the finest Swiss watch design, in their own style and grace to give a tough fight to rivals.
The watch's core design follows the Swiss movement which is known for its dependability. Whenever the designer watches are no longer in fashion, you might come over this dilemma by going to the Gucci way, which assures of consistency.