26 March 2016

Guccio Gucci – fashion designer

The man whose name inspired the interlocking G logo

Guccio Gucci was inspired by the wealthy clients he encountered when working at the Savoy Hotel in London
Guccio Gucci
The founder of the House of Gucci, Guccio Gucci, was born on this day in 1881 in Florence.

In the early 1900s Gucci worked as a lift boy at the Savoy Hotel in London, where he was inspired by the elegance of the wealthy people who stayed there and their smart luggage.

On his return to Florence he started making his own line of leather travel bags and accessories and in the 1920s he opened a small leather and equestrian shop in Via della Vigna Nuova.  Some of his skills were inherited from his father, Gabriello, who was a leather craftsman from San Miniato, near Pisa.

Gucci later added handbags to his line and relocated to a bigger shop. He was fascinated with horses and his handbags featured clasps and fasteners resembling horse bits and stirrups. He gained a reputation for hiring the best craftsmen he could to work on his products.

In 1938, encouraged by his son, Aldo, he expanded his business to Rome. When raw materials became scarce during the war he used materials such as hemp and linen to make his bags, but still trimmed them with metal resembling horse bits and stirrups.

Gucci bag in vintage design featuring the interlocking G logo
A Gucci bag in vintage design featuring leather
and fabric and the familiar interlocking G logo
The Gucci label later became famous for certain key products, such as a bag with bamboo handles and a pair of classic loafers.  

Gucci and his wife, Aida Calvelli, had six children and four of their sons, Aldo, Vasco, Ugo and Rodolfo later joined the business.

In 1951 Gucci opened a store in Milan. His preference was for keeping the business relatively small and limiting it to Italy. But his sons had more ambitious ideas and two years later expanded overseas by opening a store in Manhattan.

Gucci died in Milan in 1953, just two weeks after the New York store launched. After his death his sons continued to expand the business, opening boutiques in London and Paris.

In addition to the interlocking Gs, the House of Gucci also featured products displaying Gucci's 'knight logo', a coat of arms with a knight in full armour carrying two suitcases or bags at the centre. The coat of arms was based on an inherited ancestral coat of arms, which the family claimed the right to use after the Kingdom of Italy had transitioned into the Italian Republic.

Via de' Tornabuoni, which is Florence's most elegant shopping street
Via de' Tornabuoni, which is Florence's
most elegant shopping street
Travel tip:

Although the first Gucci shop in Florence was in Via della Vigna Nuova, their flagship store is now in nearby Via de' Tornabuoni, the city’s most elegant shopping street, where it sits alongside the other top couturiers and jewellers. The street also has some fashionable cafes where smart shoppers can pause for refreshment.

Florence hotels by Booking.com

The Gucci store in Milan is at the heart of the fashion district
The Gucci store in Milan can be found
in fashionable Via Montenapoleone 

Travel tip:

Milan’s Gucci store is right in the heart of the fashion district in Via Montenapoleone, which is a short walk from the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It is one of the four sides of the quadrilateral which makes up Milan’s fashion district. The other three sides are Via Manzoni, Via della Spiga and Via Sant’Andrea.

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