Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vintage Gucci at Another Man's Treasure!

Regardless of trends and fads, a vintage Gucci handbag is always fashionable. One of the most prestigious and recognizable brands in the world, the enduring appeal of Gucci as a symbol of quality and luxury would probably come as no surprise to it's founder Guccio Gucci...

Vintage Gucci speedy bag with signature double 'G' logo and red/green stripe webbing

Like most of the European luxury brands, the gucci story starts with the most humble of beginnings. Born in Florence in 1881, Guccio Gucci was forced out of his home by his bankrupt and embittered father. He travelled to London and found work as a dishwasher at the Savoy Hotel. Working his way up at the Savoy, a hotel that was quickly becoming a notable gathering place for the upper classes, he absorbed the refined aesthetic of English nobility, and learned that the key to attracting wealthy customers was the perception of quality and exclusiveness. It was here that he
developed a fascination for the quality personalized leather luggage used by the guests, made by craftsmen from all over Europe.

A young Guccio Gucci (right) with his parents, early 1900's

After saving enough money, Gucci returned to his native Florence, and began to work for a firm specializing in handcrafted leather products. Able and amitious, he started his own leather company in the early 1920's primarily making saddlery and leather goods crafted by local artisans which he sold to the wealthy tourists that flocked to Florence.

Tuscan artisans hard at work for Gucci
Gucci's business and reputation grew over the coming years, and he opened his first retail location in Rome in 1938, attracting a sophisticated clientelle drawn to his equestrian inspired collection of exclusive leather bags, luggage, shoes & belts. The horsebit and stirrup motifs were created in this time, and endure as symbols of the Gucci fashion house to this day.

Under the fascist dictatorship of Mussolini, with tough sanctions imposed on Italy, it became increasingly difficult for Gucci to purchase all the leather needed for his products. Ever the innovator, he turned this apparent misfortune to his advantage, and began creating handbags and luggage of both canvas and leather that would become instantly popular, and forever Gucci. It was also during this time that the 'Bamboo Bag', a handbag with a bamboo handle was introduced, another iconic Gucci product still in production today.

1960's white Gucci leather purse with Bamboo and double 'G' clasp

In the early 1950's he developed the trademark green & red striped webbing, yet another equestrian inspired design, derived from the saddle girth. It remains to this day, and is one of the most familiar identifiers of the brand. Gucci began to grow into a globally recognized symbol of modern luxury, with stores in Rome, Milan and New York. When Guccio Gucci died in 1953, the company was passed onto his 4 sons, who continued to grow the brand whilst retaining the legendary craftmanship associated with the brand.

Cherished by the most iconic figures of the time, including Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Liz Taylor, the company grew from strength to strength. Jackie Kennedy famously carried the Gucci shoulder bag, which today is known simply as the 'Jackie O'. It was during the 1960's that the interlocking double 'G' logo was introduced. The house of Gucci was considered the pinnacle of chic and remained so throughout the 1960's and 1970's

Jackie O leaving the Gucci store....

...sporting the shoulder bag she made her own.

1960's red leather shoulder bag with double 'G' logo

1970's equestrian print dress in signature colors with green Gucci belt

Vintage green suede Gucci belt with equestrian buckle

After a slump in fortunes in the late 1980's and early 1990's, the company was triumphantly re-launched with American designer Tom Ford at the helm as creative director. Today, Gucci is the biggest selling Italian brand in the world with over 270 stores worldwide!
" The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from memory"
Aldo Gucci (Guccio's son)