- The Origin: Guccio Gucci
- Brand DNA
- Gucci Growing
- 2000 – 2005
- 2005 Until Now
It was established in 1921 by Guccio Gucci (1881-1953), son of a straw hat manufacturer who moved first to Paris and then to London at a very young age. During his time in London he worked as an elevator boy at the Savoy Hotel and gained his taste for beauty and elegance.
On his return to Florence, after working for the firm Franzi of Milan, he opened his first small workshop in Via della Vigna 7 and Via del Parione 11, creating traveling and saddlery articles. In 1932 he moved to the larger rooms of Via della Vigna Nuova 11. Five years later he produced bags, suitcases, and sport items in his own artisan’s productive plant along Lungarno Guicciardini.
The first successes were linked to horse-riding items. Soon afterwards, the stirrup and bit became the symbols of the Florentine house. Sales were high enough for the company to open a new store outside of its hometown. In 1938, Gucci arrived in Rome with a store in Via Condotti. In those difficult years of autarchy, fantasy contrasted with the lack of raw materials, with the introduction of materials such as hemp, linen, jute, and the famous bamboo, which were less expensive than the usual skins and added to the griffe‘s originality.
In 1939, the passage from a one-man company to a limited responsibility company marked the official entry of Guccio’s four children, Aldo, Vasco, Ugo, and Rodolfo to the business. In 1951, the boutique was opened in Via Montenapoleone 5 in Milan.
The 1950s represented an important time in the life of the company. The old Florentine artisan workshop of Lungarno Guicciardini was moved to the rooms of Palazzo Settimanni, in Via delle Caldaie, today a very modern showroom. The distinctive feature of the brand became a ribbon inspired by the saddle’s girth, in different sizes, in wool or cotton, in green-red-green colors for natural leather articles and in blue-red-blue for the colored skins. In the same year, it was decided that the company, which had by then achieved European recognition, would locate in a more steady way abroad and became one of the figureheads of Made in Italy in the United States.
These are the years in which the company decided to adopt the logo GG to indicate the initials of the founder, as a decoration motif of a cotton fabric, called GG Canvas, with which bags, small leather goods, cases, objects, and the first clothing articles were realized.
Gucci opened the first American sale point in 58th Street in New York. In the meantime, the products destined to become classics were consolidated: the first bag with the bamboo handle (1947), the loafers with clamp (1952-53), the Flora scarf (1967) created by Rodolfo Gucci, and Accornero for Grace Kelly. Women with an unmatched style, such as Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, Maria Callas, the Duchess of Windsor, chose Gucci.
Thanks to the opening of new sales points in London (1961), Palm Beach (1961), Paris (1963), and Beverly Hills (1968), and to the creativity of production, the brand obtains meaningful consents in the most important world markets.
After the great flood of 1966 in Florence, Gucci left the rooms of Via della Vigna and moved to Via Tornabuoni. The production potential developed with the opening, in 1971, of a new plant in Scandicci, near Florence. This allowed a further expansion of the direct network of shops during the 1970s including Chicago (1971), Tokyo (1972), and Hong Kong (1974) and marked the beginning of a larger presence in the Far East. The industrial development of the company did not yet mean that it would give up its artisan’s production schemes. Production was always managed and organized in the Florentine headquarters through a stringent checks of the quality of products.
In 1982 Gucci became a public limited company. After a period of difficult strategic choices, the management passed into the hands of Maurizio, Rodolfo’s son. In 1989, the Anglo-Arabian financial company Investcorp acquired 50% of shares, once owned by Aldo and his heirs, while Maurizio held the remaining 50% as well as the company’s presidency until 1993. In 1993 he sold all of his shares to Investcorp. Domenico de Sole and Tom Ford were called upon to manage the relaunch of the brand. In 1995 Domenico De Sole, already responsible for Gucci America since 1984, was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Gucci Group N.V.
In 1994 the American designer, Tom Ford, was made Creative Director for all production, the redesign of the brand’s identity. Thanks to this remix of classic and modern, of tradition and innovation, the new style of the Florentine house conquered the world market. The brand returned as a leader in the sector of leather goods. The management also took a risk by launching men and women’s clothing Collections, which immediately achieved great success with the critics and the general public.
Between 1995 and 1996, Gucci became the first true Italian public company with the selling of the entire capital stock in the stock exchanges of New York and Amsterdam. In early 1999, Bernard Arnault with Lvmh conquered 34.4% of the capital, buying up shares in the financial market and acquiring the stock parcel owned by Prada and other investors. At this attempt to enter into the company’s management, Gucci’s supervisory board opposed, entrusting the management defense to the general manager Domenico De Sole.
After the adoption of a new share plan for the employees, which granted them an option to buy Gucci’s shares as owned by Lvmh, a new strategic alliance was approved in March 1999 with the French group Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (Ppr) for the creation of a multibrand hub in the world industry of luxury. In change of a quota of 40%, Ppr has invested $2.9 billion in Gucci to finance the group’s growth through acquisitions. The first opportunity came along in July 1999 with the acquisition of Sanofi Beauté, a company that controls Yves Saint-Laurent and an empire of perfumes, from Roger & Gallet to those of Krizia, Fendi, and Oscar de la Renta. While Lmvh continues its legal battle, independent shareholders gathered in an assembly have approved Domenico De Sole as the new partner, not only as general manager. Gucci closed the first semester of 1999 with a net profit of 225 billion Liras, a growth of 68% compared to the first six months of 1998.
During Milano Moda Donna, the Gucci fashion show is not to be missed. When you say Gucci one immediately thinks of Tom Ford, the designer with an unquestionable charisma and undeniable personal charm, of which he is completely aware. He continues to proceed along itineraries of style very congenial for him. A master of uncontrolled seduction, his Collections should be read as a refined Kamasutra also for men’s fashion trends. His Collections created for the Summer of 2003 were memorable because of this, with an eroticism pushed to the limit, which he himself defined as “vaguely pornographic” with explicit sex messages written even on the slippers.
Pretty man or rock star, he is without a doubt a man who cannot go unnoticed, even when he wants to be as classic as The Great Gatsby. For women, the game is even easier and more explicit. A lady moved by naughty ideas, donning intriguing clothes that capture the public, especially in black, a color loved for its arrogant authenticity.
Gucci group continues to grow and acquires several different luxury brands including; Sergio Rossi, Alexander McQueen, Bedat & Co., Bottega Veneta, Stella McCartney, Balenciaga, and Australian JV. At this time Gucci was acquiring several different brands, but the creative direction remained in the hands of the brands.
In November 2001 Gucci opened flagship stores in Moscow in Tretyakovsky Proyezd 1.
The group made a major decision in 2002 to no longer import skins from India as a form of protest for the lack of respect of Indians towards animals. This decision was probably influenced by Stella McCartney, supporter of animal rights. The same decision had been taken by Timberland, Gap, Nike, and Reebok.
Later, in May the group restored the control of activities in Taiwan by acquiring the quote held by the local partner Tasa Meng Corporation. Furthermore, it opened a three-floor space with a jewelry department in Taipei. The look was decided, as always, by Tom Ford. Domenico De Sole declared he would invest €200 million in new stores, 35 of which would be located in Asia.
In July there was an interview in Corriere Economia, with Domenico De Sole, Gucci’s general manager, who declared that notwithstanding the expected difficulties for 2002, the multi brand strategy, adopted in full agreement with Tom Ford, works. An improvement is foreseen for the second half of the year.
In September 2002 the Spring/Summer 2003 collection debuted in Milan stressed legs with tiny miniskirts that were tight, fitted around the waist and hardly seen under jackets. Also in the collection included Chinese shaped mini dresses, in pleated or embroidered silk, Kimono-shapes for strong colored jackets, and shorts or black lace underpants, worn in a ultra sexy way over bare breasts. The bamboo-handle bag is back, a Gucci must since the 1950s, but expressly big and sandal-décolleté in silver leather.
Later, in October, Tom Ford, artistic director of Gucci, inaugurates boutiques all over the world. After Moscow, it was the turn of Manhattan, Paris, and Milan, all designed by him and the architect, Bill Sofield. The turnover registered a decline of 6.9% determined in particular by the crisis of leather goods. In early September the boutique of Madison Avenue was opened and, shortly afterwards, the third Paris boutique at number 60 of Avenue Montaigne, after those in Faubourg Saint Honoré and Rue Saint Honoré.
In November, Gucci, in collaboration with Sàfilo, launched two new lines of sunglasses, designed by Stella McCartney and Bottega Veneta. The unisex Collection by Bottega Veneta is designed by the Austrian designer, Tomas Maier. Stella McCartney proposed six models in different shapes and colors.
Also, Gucci inaugurated the new megastore located on Via Montenapoleone, Milan. The old store, completely reorganized, at number 5, was enlarged with the new space acquired at number 7: four floors with four shop-windows and three entrances. In the basement, the women’s Collections, at the first floor accessories and jewelry, while the two superior floors are dedicated to menswear.
By December 2002, the third quarter of 2001 registered a drop in profits and proceedings. The Gucci group, quoted at the stock exchange of Amsterdam and New York, registered proceedings amounting to $566.2 million (-7.9% compared to 615 in 2000), an operative profit before amortizations of $80.9 (against 133) and a net profit of $56.3 (against 114.2). Proceedings are substantially steady (+11% with 1,660 against 1,642), while the net profit diminishes all the same (from 241.7 millions to 195.1). This decline has concerned especially the sales in markets based on tourism, such as New York, Hawaii, West Coast, and some European towns. Also, Gucci opened a store in in Via Condotti, Rome, one of the first stores exclusively dedicated to jewelry and watches.
The fiscal year 2002 closed with a drop of profits to €226.8 million Euros, against €312.5 of the previous year. Steady, on the contrary, proceedings at €2,544.3 millions against €2,565.1 in 2001.
In April 2003 the most elegant headquarters of Tokyo, Ginza, Gucci intended to create its Japanese headquarters and open a super luxury boutique. In Japan, where it owns seven sales points and 37 shop-in-shops, Gucci registered in 2002 proceedings amounting to €500 million, about 20% of the total proceedings of the group.
Later, in May Domenico De Sole was asked the question: How are you facing the crisis? He answered without hesitations,
“Shaving costs. In 2001 and 2002 we invested 300 millions per year, more than two-thirds in new stores or to reorganize those we already had. This year capital costs are to be considerably reduced and the trend is to continue in the next two years, with a big benefit to the cash flow.”
By June the group had acquired total control of the join venture Gucci Singapore and Gucci Malaysia. De Sole comments,
“Southeast Asia is a very important region and Singapore and Malaysia are more and more attractive. The total acquisition of our assets in those areas witness our commitment to further develop the Gucci brand in markets which we deem to have, in future, a good growth potential.”
Then, by July, the first quarter of 2003, finished on April 30, the Gucci group registered proceedings amounting to €567.1 million, compared to €607.6 millions of the same quarter of the previous year, while under the operative profile the first three months of the ongoing year marked a loss of €24.4 million (against a profit of €20.4 millions).
In September 2003 the French Group Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR) increased its shareholding in the Gucci group to 67.34%, getting closer to the target of 70% expected within the end of the year.
Officially in November 2003 the group announced that Domenico De Sole, President and general manager of the Gucci group, and Tom Ford, creative director of Gucci group and of the brands Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, did not intend to prolong their contracts beyond their agreed expiry date of 2004. Domenico De Sole said,
“Gucci has been one of the great loves of my life, and the years spent here have been a fantastic journey. I want to thank Tom, whose creative genius has made possible our successes, as well as all the extraordinary colleagues all over the world. Thanks to their skills and devotion, we have been able to transform a small company in a bad financial conditions when I arrived in 1984 into a world power of luxury, thus creating more value for all our stakeholders.”
Tom Ford exclaims,
“It is with a lot of sadness that I look at my future without Gucci. In the last 13 years this company was my life. We are leaving one of the most powerful teams of the sector and I’ll do my best for the remaining time I’ll spend here for the future success of the group. I couldn’t be prouder of our work in Gucci or of the exceptional team of colleagues who have contributed with much more than just tough work: they put their heart in our research of excellence. I’m grateful for having the opportunity to share the joy of success with such a fantastic group of people. I would like to thank Domenico for his extraordinary leadership, his constant support, and friendship.”
In February 2004, the Group PPR announced that it would launch a bid for the acquisition of the Gucci group’s shares not yet in its possession. The bid was to be launched at the pre-fixed price of $85.52 per share.
March 2004 Alessandra Facchinetti became the new creative director of the women’s clothing line. She arrived at Gucci in October 2000 as style director of the women’s division. And immediately showed exceptional qualities. John Ray was made the new creative director of the men’s line. In 1996 Tom Ford called him into Gucci as style consultant for the men’s line and, after a short time, he began working full-time at Gucci. Frida Giannini was the new creative director of the accessories line. Born in Rome in 1972, she studied at the Academy of Costume and Fashion. In September 2002 she became style director of Gucci’s Leather Collection and contributed meaningfully to the success of the brand’s leather Collections.
Later, in June The group PPR, which owns 99.3% of the Gucci group, cashed a dividend of €50 million Euros. However, this amount covered over 25% of the financial burdens. In fact, the French giant disbursed a total of €7 billion Euros to gain control of the Florentine house, €2.6 of which was disbursed for the last bid. It had €380 millions of debt.
In July Gucci opened a store entirely dedicated to accessories in the prestigious Gallery Vittorio Emanuele in Milan. The store also featured a bar. Later in September, Gucci established the Blutonic tannery in Tuscany, of which it controls 51.5%.
In november 2004 Mark Lee delineated the future strategies of the group. “Gucci will continue to grow, but in a more consistent way with its image and tradition. Decentralization? No, I confirm the intention to continue the production in Italy, because the brand’s strength is in the Made in Italy and, in particular, in the Made in Tuscany as to leather goods.”
In March 2005, Frida Giannini is made the new creative director of the womenswear, a charge that adds to her present responsibility with Gucci’s accessories line. She replaced Alessandra Facchinetti. John Ray maintained his role of creative director for men’s clothing.
In January 2009, Patrizio Di Marco, former president and CEO of Bottega Veneta, became the new president and CEO of Gucci. Di Marco and Giannini changed the strategies and decided to reposition the Gucci brand.
By 2010, Gucci has become the most valuable brand in PPR group, total turnover more the €2.66 billion, compared to 2008, the number increased more than 11%, and operating profit reached €765 million.
In 2011 Gucci celebrated its 90th anniversary, the company organized a series of activities, including grand opening of the new Gucci Museo which located in a 14th century building in the Piazza della Signoria, brand also launched its limited ‘1921’ collection, referring to Gucci‘s founding year, the collection including number of the brand’s best-known classics: the Bamboo, Jackie and Horsebit bags, which all be made over in new fabrics and color. Gucci also brought its 90th anniversary celebrations to Japan by displaying some of its most prized pieces at a storied Kyoto temple.
In 2011 Italy celebrated its 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, so Gucci and Fiat, two of Italy’s most respected brands worked together launched the “500 by Gucci.” This special edition of the iconic Fiat 500 customized by Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini in partnership with Fiat’s Centro Stile.
In 2013, Gucci sold most of the shares to the Kering group. Then, in 2014 creative director Frida Giannini is departing Gucci after the label’s Spring/Summer 2015 show due to declining sales, after six years working at the brand. As well as Patrizio di Marco, the firm’s chief executive.
January 2015, Italian fashion designer Alessandro Michele was pointed creative director of Gucci, meanwhile, Marco Bizzarri became new CEO of the brand.
Thanks to Alessandro Michele and Marco Bizzarri, with their introduction of a new contemporary vision, bring eclectic and romantic to brand’s identity, Gucci has re-establishing its reputation as one of the world’s most influential luxury fashion brands. Nowadays the brand has become the biggest moneymaking brand of Kering group, accounts for more than 60% of Kering’s operating profit. And today, Gucci owns 522 stores around the world and more than 10,000 employees.
Alessandro was born in Rome and attended Accademia di Costume e di Moda. He started his career at Fendi as Senior Accessories Designer. Then, he was brought onto the Gucci team by Tom Ford in 2002 and moved to Gucci’s London-based design office. Over his 12 years he held a variety of roles: in 2006 he was named Leather Goods Design Director and promoted in May 2011 as Associate to then Creative Director Frida Giannini. In September 2014, he took on the additional role of Creative Director of Richard Ginori, the fine Florentine porcelain brand acquired by Gucci. Because of Alessandro Michele and Gucci, Kering’s revenues are growing as fast as ever, and Gucci saw its revenues increased 21%, almost doubling expectations.