Gucci is an Italian luxury brand of fashion and leather goods and was founded by Guccio Gucci in Florence in 1921.
As an immigrant hotel worker in Paris and later London, young Guccio Gucci was impressed with the luxurious luggage he saw urbane guests bring with them. Upon returning to his birthplace of Florence, a city distinguished for high-quality materials and skilled artisans, he established a shop in 1920 that sold fine leather goods with classic styling. Together with three of his sons, Aldo, Vasco and Rodolfo Gucci, Gucci expanded the company to include stores in Milan and Rome as well as additional shops in Florence.
Gucci's stores featured such finely crafted leather accessories as handbags, shoes, and his iconic ornamented loafer as well as silks and knitwear in a signature pattern. The company made handbags of cotton canvas rather than leather during World War II as a result of material shortages. The canvas, however, was distinguished by a signature double-G symbol combined with prominent red and green bands. Aldo and Rodolfo Gucci further expanded the company's horizons in 1953 by establishing offices in New York City. Film stars and jet-set travelers to Italy during the 1950s and 1960s brought their glamour to Florence, turning Gucci's merchandise into international status symbols. Movie stars posed in Gucci's clothing, accessories, and footwear for lifestyle magazines around the world, contributing to the company’s growing reputation. Watches, jewellery, ties, and eyewear were then added to the company's product lines. A particularly iconic touch, introduced in 1964, was the use of the double-G logo for belt buckles and other accessory decorations.
The company prospered through the 1970s, but the 1980s were marked by internal family disputes that brought Gucci to the brink of disaster. Rudolfo’s son Maurizio Gucci took over the company’s direction after his father’s death in 1983, and dismissed his uncle Aldo—who eventually served a prison term for tax evasion. In the early 1990s, Gucci underwent what is now recognised as the poorest time in the company's history. Maurizio was a charming man who passionately loved his family's business, but he was incapable of running the company. His management had had an adverse effect on the desirability of the brand, product quality, and distribution control and he was forced to sell his shares in the company to Investcorp in August 1993. Tragically, Maurizio was murdered in Milan in 1995, and his former wife, Patricia Reggiani, was convicted of hiring his killers.
Aware of Gucci’s tarnished image and the value of its name brand, the brand had hired Tom Ford in 1990 to design a ready-to-wear line. He was promoted to the position of creative director in 1994 at just 32 years old. Ford and editor Dawn Mello reduced the number of Gucci products from twenty-thousand to five-thousand and took the company’s image in a new direction. Ford was also instrumental in the process of decision-making when the Gucci Group acquired Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Bottega Veneta, Sergio Rossi, and, in part-ownership with Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga.
When the French conglomerate Pinault-Printemps-Redoute gained ownership of 60 percent of the Gucci Group’s stock in 2003, the departure of Tom Ford from the company was announced. The last spring collection under his direction was a critical and commercial success. Amid widespread speculation in the fashion press about Ford’s heir, the company announced three designers to continue the success of the company's flagship label: John Ray, Alessandra Facchinetti and Frida Giannini, all of whom had worked under Ford's creative direction. Frida Giannini, who was the creative director for women’s ready-to-wear and accessories in 2006 also became the creative director for men's ready-to-wear and the entire Gucci label. She stepped down from Gucci in 2014 and as of 2015, the creative director is Alessandro Michele.
Gucci is famous for producing controversial advertisements that many believe sexualise and objectify women. Gucci’s advertisements are said to reinforce common stereotypes and favour men over women through relative size, ritualisation of subordination, feminine touch, and function ranking. Almost all of Gucci’s advertisements include a woman who is being dismembered to show off a certain part of her body, positioned in a way, that sexualises her body or made much smaller in size to appear submissive to the counterpart (usually a male) in the ad. In early 2003, Gucci produced a highly popular advertisement which pictured a model with her pants pulled down and her pubic hair shaved into a “G”. In order to promote their SS 2016 collection, Gucci used a short film and images with reference to a cult film about drug addiction. The campaign advertisement depicted women dealing with drugs and prostitution including the main character and her boyfriend sell their bodies at a railway station.
On the other hand, Gucci has a partnership with UNICEF and donate a percentage of the sales for special collections toward the United Nations Children's Fund supporting education, healthcare, protection and clean water programs for orphans and children affected by HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Gucci also supports the "Chime for Change" campaign which works to further girls' and women's empowerment together with Beyoncé Knowles and Salma Hayek. In 2013, the brand commissioned activist Lydia Emily to paint a mural of a woman named Jessica, who is a survivor of human trafficking.