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Gucci Handbags


About Gucci

Guccio Gucci (1881-1953) developed a taste for beauty and elegance as a young man while working as a lift attendant in London's opulent Savoy Hotel at the turn of the 19th century. In 1921, after his return to Florence, he opened a shop at 7 Via della Vigna Nuova selling luggage and saddlery, as well as a small workshop that handcrafted them. In need of expansion, the workshop, which also had begun to produce handbags as well as its original equitation goods, was relocated to a larger space on Lungarno Guicciardini along the Arno River in 1937. By this time the iconic bit and stirrups, which were derived from the company's origins and denoted the sophistication of the products, had come to represent Gucci's success.

In 1938, the business expanded to Rome with the opening of a shop on the prestigious Via Condotti. Under the limitations of the Fascist dictatorship, imagination compensated for the shortage of raw materials, as Guccio discovered the distinctive potential of hemp, linen, jute and the signature bamboo.

The one-man business became a family business when sons Aldo, Vasco, and Ugo joined the company in 1939. Another son, Rodolfo, later joined the company and in 1951, he opened a shop in Milan. The opening of the Manhattan store on 58th Street in 1953 launched the Gucci brand as one of the pioneers of Italian design in the United States.
The late 1940s through the 1960s brought the Gucci classics: the bag with the bamboo handle (1947), the moccasin with the metal bit (1952), and the flowered Flora silk scarf (1966) created for Grace Kelly.

The unique designs and high quality materials became a symbol of class and exclusivity worn by women of style such as Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy, Maria Callas and the Duchess of Windsor.

In 1953, the workshop moved to a yet larger location: Florence's Palazzo Settimanni on Via delle Caldaie, the site now occupied by Gucci's ultra-modern showroom.

In the 1950s, the trademark striped webbing, which was derived from the saddle girth, became one of the company's great successes. This signature detail appeared in a green/red/green version for natural leather pieces and in blue/red/blue for dyed leathers.
During this period, the company adopted the GG logo, taken from the initials of its founder, as an ornamental motif for a distinctive cotton fabric called GG canvas. This original material was used in the making of handbags, accessories, luggage and the first articles of clothing.

The inauguration of the Manhattan store in 1953 started an overseas expansion that continued through the next two decades. With the opening of stores in London and Palm Beach (1963), Paris (1963) and Beverly Hills (1968), Gucci became a success in the most important world markets.
In 1971, as the Chicago store was being launched, the company's new factory opened in Scandicci, near Florence, and the former workshop on Via delle Caldaie was transformed into a showroom. Soon, shops in Tokyo (1972) and Hong Kong (1974) marked the beginnings of a growing presence in the Far East. Yet the company's rapid development did not lead to abandoning expert handcraftsmanship: production continued to be stringently managed and organized from the Florence headquarters.

In 1982 the original Gucci became Guccio Gucci S.p.A., a public limited company, and soon after its leadership passed to Rodolfo Gucci's son, Maurizio. Between 1987 and 1989, Investcorp, an international investment company, purchased the 50% of Gucci shares that were held by Aldo Gucci and his sons. Maurizio Gucci retained the remaining 50% until 1993, when he sold his entire share to Investcorp.

In 1994, Gucci Group NV was incorporated. The same year, Tom Ford, previously Chief Women's Ready-to-Wear Designer, was appointed as Creative Director of Gucci's entire product range. His seminal fall/winter 1995-1996 collection transformed Gucci's style with a remix of classic and modern, tradition and innovation. It was an immediate hit with the critics and the public and marked the relaunch of the Gucci brand.

In 1995, Domenico De Sole was appointed as President and CEO of Gucci Group NV after holding the position of President of Gucci America Inc. (1984-1994) and Chief Operating Officer of the Gucci Group (1994-1995). The De Sole-Ford team would reinvent Gucci over the following years.

In October of 1995, Investcorp floated 48.2% of Gucci Group NV on the New York and Amsterdam Stock Exchanges. The Initial Public Offering was positively received by the market, leading Investcorp to offer the remaining 51.8% of the company five months later. Gucci's shares were in international demand.

The European Business Press Federation (U.P.E.F.E) recognized Gucci's business achievements in 1998, selecting it as European Company of the Year from among 4,000 other companies. The award acknowledged Gucci's economic and financial performance, its strategic vision and its management quality.

In July 1999, Gucci's independent shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favor of an alliance with Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR), a leader in specialized distribution, which enabled Gucci to accelerate its strategy to become a leading multi-brand luxury goods company.

The same year, Gucci Group NV acquired Yves Saint Laurent Couture and Sanofi Beauté‚ a prestigious perfume and cosmetics company that boasts YSL fragrances such as Opium and Paris, as well as a wealth of other perfume licenses including Roger & Gallet, Krizia, Fendi and Oscar de la Renta. In 1999, Gucci Group NV also acquired a 70% controlling interest in Sergio Rossi, a leading Italian luxury shoe company.

The growth of Gucci Group NV continues in 2000 with the acquisition of Boucheron International S.A. Founded in France in 1858, Boucheron has a long established heritage as one of the world's most exclusive jewelry, watch and perfume brands. Also in 2000, Gucci secured further control over its brands by obtaining liscense rights held by Cartier International for Yves Saint Laurent Couture watches and jewelry. Both moves reflect Gucci's confidence in the global potential of the jewelry and watches segments of the luxury goods market.


Gucci in the News

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