Gucci is the very embodiment of style and fashion and ever since the first boutique was opened in Rome in 1920, the leather goods company made rapid strides. If you talk of fashion and a leathery feel, you cannot but think of the Italian master craftsmen that introduced handbag styling with the bamboo handle in the mid 1940’s. Fashion in the early decades of the last century was limited to dresses and shoes while accessories were not given much weight.
Family feuds after Gucci’s death
Founded by Guccio Gucci, the famous Gucci web logo with stripes and metal came into vogue only during the 1950’s shortly before he died in 1953. Despite having a large family, his three sons took over the reins, but it was son Aldo who literally steered the company toward global recognition by opening the New York boutique. Even though infighting in the family was not unknown due to wealth and stock sharing, Gucci expanded worldwide.
Entering the far eastern markets in the 1960’s with a boutique store in Hong Kong, the company came out with the famous GG logo that fast caught on among celebrities. By sixties, Gucci had emerged as not just another handbag company, but nested firmly in the luxury segment. Soon celebrities from Grace Kelly to Jackie Kennedy were sporting handbags from the Gucci stable.
Consumer products slide up fast on the popularity charts if they are endorsed by the high and mighty. Gucci had no shortage of well known actors and actress from Hollywood using their now famous range of handbags.
Products from Gucci became a preserve of the rich and famous and those who were not, but could afford a premier handbag, made a beeline for stores. But the success was too good to last. By the late 1970’s infighting between family members started taking its toll.
The company was on the verge of going under due to frequent business blunders by the sons as well as fierce boardroom violence that ended up in throwing of bags and purses at each other. But all through the family feuds, it was son Aldo who held the reins and contributed much to its success all through.
Perfumery and outsourcing
He brought in his grandson Uberto to start a perfumery division which is still a major business contributor. The year was 1979 and to promote the perfumes, leather accessories for storing them were developed by the new company called GAC or Gucci Perfumes Branch. Pens, cosmetic bags, lighters and holders were priced lower than other ranges and Aldo delegated authority of the perfumes division to his son Roberto in a bid to wrest control from his brother.
The family infighting of the fashion mandarins weakened the appeal and by 1980’s, the brand was restricted to airport stores. Fakes appeared in the market and members of the family also came out with cheaper replicas to have a go at each other. Aldo’s son Paolo got his father convicted by the IRS and later Uberto allied with his cousin Maurizio to outsource talent to save the company from ruin.