The House of Gucci: What Makes or Breaks a Fashion Brand?

You’re probably aware that one of the most hotly anticipated films of the year has just been released: House of Gucci. As the title suggests, the film is based on the Gucci family’s rise to fashion domination. Starring singer and actress Lady Gaga alongside actor Adam Driver, the film examines the inner workings of the notoriously elusive fashion world. 

As is typical, the film illustrates a highly dramatised version of the iconic fashion brand’s 100-year history. However, the major plotlines remain similar to reality – events that did shape how the brand continued to evolve to what it is today. So, what does it take to make an iconic fashion house? If House of Gucci is anything to go by, it takes more than just a great eye for design.

Gucci was founded in 1921 when the young leather-crafter Guccio Gucci opened a small store in the city of Florence. Guccio Gucci had no intention of his designs becoming a high-end, exclusive fashion brand. In fact, this first store focused on creating premium equestrian equipment for horseback riders. Over time, Gucci’s time in London working within the Savoy hotel had taught him the desires of wealthy tourists: high-quality goods costing any price – and it wasn’t long before the shop began to craft these one-of-a-kind accessories. 

After some financial help from his soon-to-be son-in-law, Guccio Gucci’s business took off. Due to the lack of leather available during the war, the Gucci business had to become more innovative than ever. These are the circumstances in which the famous Gucci loafer was born, which even then included the detail of the horsebit, that still remains an iconic symbol for the company today.

In 1953, Guccio Gucci’s sons opened up the brand’s first American shop in New York. By this point, celebrities such as Queen Elizabeth II, Elizabeth Taylor, and Jackie Kennedy had become fans of the high-quality goods being sold by Gucci. The brand was now more than just a few shops. It was a status symbol.  

After Guccio Gucci’s death two weeks after the New York shop opened, Gucci’s seemingly untouchable rise to fame was halted. The brand, now left in the hands of his three sons, struggled to continue. Numerous family feuds resulted in the company having to be saved by a private investment firm. The glory days were gone, and the Gucci family had lost ownership. In one of the darkest fashion headlines of all time, the feud ended with the hiring of a hitman to end the life of the last of Guccio Gucci’s legacy. 

After this death, the role of creative director was handed over to Tom Ford. His influence within the business transformed Gucci’s future to become what it is today – a brand worth over $17 billion. Gucci currently has over 480 stores across the world, and in 2019, was named by Insider as the hottest brand on the planet.

House of Gucci might not depict the truest depiction of events, however, if there’s one thing for sure, it’s that the film beautifully illustrates the high risk, high reward element of the fashion world. Put on your oversized, bejewelled sunglasses, relax, and enjoy the film. It really is a treat for all fashion enthusiasts!

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Elizabeth Woor

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January 2022
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