Gucci (1881-1953) developed a taste for beauty and elegance
as a young man while working as a lift attendant in London's opulent Savoy Hotel
at the turn of the 19th century. In 1921, after his return to Florence, he opened
a shop at 7 Via della Vigna Nuova selling luggage and saddlery, as well as a small
workshop that handcrafted them. In need of expansion, the workshop, which also
had begun to produce handbags as well as its original equitation goods, was relocated
to a larger space on Lungarno Guicciardini along the Arno River in 1937. By this
time the iconic bit and stirrups, which were derived from the company's origins
and denoted the sophistication of the products, had come to represent Gucci's
In 1938, the business expanded to Rome with the opening of a shop on the prestigious Via Condotti. Under the limitations of the Fascist dictatorship, imagination compensated for the shortage of raw materials, as Guccio discovered the distinctive potential of hemp, linen, jute and the signature bamboo.
The one-man business became a family business when sons Aldo, Vasco, and Ugo joined the company in 1939. Another son, Rodolfo, later joined the company and in 1951, he opened a shop in Milan. The opening of the Manhattan store on 58th Street in 1953 launched the Gucci brand as one of the pioneers of Italian design in the United States.