In 1921, Guccio Gucci opened a small shop on Via Vigna Nuova in Florence, Italy, where he sold imported leather luggage and some of his own leather designs. His workshop began producing signature leather items like equestrian equipment and equestrian-inspired luggage, expanding with popularity and gaining success with the social elite. These first pieces became the inspiration for countless Gucci designs over the next century, worn by celebrities and photographed by paparazzi all over the world!
The Bamboo Bag co-stars with Ingrid Bergman
When “Viaggio in Italia” debuted in theaters in 1954, Ingrid Bergman sported the “Bamboo Bag”, developed by Aldo Gucci a few years prior. The signature Gucci handbag was a small, structured pigskin bag inspired by the shape of a saddle, with flame-shaped varnished bamboo handles, and quickly became popular with Hollywood stars and the jet-set elite.
The Bamboo Bag may have been a trend in the 50s and 60s, but it’s classic lines and polished bamboo handles are still a part of Gucci collections today. While the designs have been updated and influenced by the various decades, modern Bamboo Bags are immediately recognizable as the Gucci staple that has been popular for almost 70 years. Princess Diana was photographed carrying a Bamboo tote and bamboo has been featured in Gucci collections for years.
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy makes the “Jackie Bag” a must-have item for the 1960s
The 1960s brought even more brand recognition and celebrity endorsements from around the globe. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was seen shielding herself from paparazzi with a Gucci bag designed in a half-moon shape with piston hardware, then known as the “Fifties Constance.” The purse was swiftly renamed the “Jackie Bag” and quickly rose in popularity to become the “It Bag” among celebrities and cultural elites.
Jacqueline Kennedy’s immense popularity meant that she was routinely photographed, and her style was frequently copied. When she was photographed with signature pieces like the Jackie bag, demand would surge for the coveted item, cementing it as a fashion trend. It’s a tribute to the Gucci quality and classic design that the Jackie bag still looks modern and would accessorize any modern outfit to perfection. In fact, the Jackie bag is still offered today in a range of colors and textiles. From the Jackie 1961 mini shoulder bag in canvas or denim with leather trim, selling at a cost of $1,700, the Jackie 1961 small shoulder bag, selling at a price point of $25,000, the Jackie bag continues to be in high demand as one of the most classic, recognizable Gucci pieces of all time.
The Horsebit leather loafer becomes an American trend
Gucci is not just famous for handbags, of course. Luxury footwear has long been part of their branding, most famously captured in the form of the Horsebit loafer. Created by Aldo Gucci in 1953, the loafer was conceptualized when Aldo traveled to the United States and saw many men wearing comfortable, slip-on moccasins. Crafted from soft leather and featuring a horsebit adornment, the loafer has set records for sales, selling 84,000 pieces in one year in 1969. The horsebit loafer has been featured in movies and seen on celebrity feet, including those of John Wayne and John F. Kennedy, Jr. Today, the 1953 Horsebit Leather Loafer sells for $790. It is a longstanding style sure to endure many more years.
The Princess of Monaco sets new trend with a floral scarf
Grace Kelly, screen star turned Princess of Monaco, was gifted a floral scarf by Rodolfo Gucci after she visited a shop in Milan in 1966. The pattern, based on a commissioned illustration by scenographer Vittorio Accornero, became the famous “Flora” print.
The Flora scarf consisted of a floral pattern hand-painted on a silk scarf, the print contained 43 varieties of flowers, plants and insects, along with 37 colors. The Princess was photographed wearing the scarf tied around her neck, which led to fashionable ladies around the world clamoring for that beautiful print. In recent years, Gucci has featured the print in their updated fashion collections, and you can still by a silk Flora scarf in Gucci stored for around $495.
The 1970s: Gucci luxury items expand beyond luggage and wearables
Expensive purses, accessories and other clothing was a status symbol for the rich or aspiring-rich by the 1970s, so it is natural that the fashion house would expand to other luxury items. The 70s brought new luxury product commissions and collaborations. As Gucci was already popular with travelers, luggage and other travel collaborations became a natural extension of their brand. A Rolls Royce luggage set was designed in 1970, appealing to travelers that coveted the Rolls Royce guarantee of comfort and prestige with the famous Gucci quality luggage.
In 1971, Gucci collaborated with American Motor Company (AMC) Motors to create the Gucci Hornet, a premium vehicle with Gucci interior leather and trim in its classic red and green colored stripes. Exterior colors were limited to Gucci-coordinating shades, and fashionable drivers everywhere could be assured that their vehicle would match their handbag as they arrived at parties and exclusive luncheons.
In 1978, Gucci again collaborated with another top-of-the-line motor vehicle company, this time Cadillac, to create a Gucci edition Seville. The Cadillac Seville featured an interior fabricated with the famous Gucci Diamante pattern and the iconic red and white stripes. The Gucci Seville sold for six years until 1984 and came with a matching set of luggage for the lucky owner.
TikTok and influencer trends bring Gucci to anybody with a smart phone
TikTok and Instagram influence trends to huge audiences at lightning speeds – and Gucci is frequently featured in videos and photographs by celebrities, models and aspiring influencers. In 2020, the #GucciModelChallenge took over TikTok when ordinary people satirized Gucci-collection looks by layering clothing from their own closets.
Gucci was embraced the challenge and even featured some of the looks posted by users to their account, highlighting the work of aspiring models and designers through their popular brand. The challenge highlighted how classic Gucci looks really are, and how the brand remains accessible even to those that can’t afford a head-to-toe Gucci look.
Gucci looks to the future
When Guccio Gucci opened his shop in 1921, he could have never imagined the ups and downs his company would experience or the scandals that would the famous fashion family. He also could not have predicted that his small, elite, luxury-goods shop would become an industry leader in high-end fashion and trend-setter a century later. The Gucci brand has endured by adapting to the changing styles and business demands. Given their current popularity, Gucci should continue to enjoy success and influence trends far into the future.