Guccio Gucci: Founder Of Gucci And Its Complicated History

By | March 24, 2021

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Guccio Gucci c. 1940. (Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons)

His name is now synonymous with style, luxury, and haute couture, but what do you know about Guccio Gucci, the man behind the famous Gucci fashion brand that's the subject of a star-studded 2021 movie?

Bellhop Turned Businessman

Guccio Gucci was born in Florence, Italy on March 26, 1881. As the son of an Italian merchant, he grew up influenced by the art and history of Florence as well as the commerce of this northern manufacturing center. In 1898, he moved to London and landed his first job at the Savoy Hotel, the pinnacle of luxury accommodations at the time. As a bellhop, dishwasher, waiter, and elevator attendant to the likes of Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchill, and Claude Monet, Gucci used his various jobs at the Savoy as a lesson in style. He observed how the wealthy elite behaved, their mannerisms, and their choice of clothing and accessories. He also engaged guests in conversation, building a network of contacts crucial to his future business success.

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Gucci Museum in Florence, 2020. (NadCar97/Wikimedia Commons)

Becoming Gucci

After a few years in London, Gucci returned to his native Italy and married 24-year-old dressmaker Aida Calvelli in 1901. A little more than 20 years later, he invested all of the money he'd saved over the years in his own shop on the well-known Via della Vigna Nuova in Florence, which he stocked with fine imported luggage from England and Germany as well as his own custom-made designs. His shop was so successful that he added a workshop in the back and brought in some of the best artisans in the region to make custom leather bags. He also began producing a line of top-quality saddlebags and horse harnesses, recognizing the untapped market in accessories for one of the wealthy's favorite hobbies.

Gucci's four sons, Aldo, Rodolfo, Ugo, and Vasco, soon joined their father in his business; in fact, it was Aldo Gucci who designed the now-iconic double-G logo for the Gucci brand in 1933. By then, business was so good, especially among international customers, that Gucci opened another boutique in Rome.