The extraordinary success of the Italian luxury brand Gucci is directly linked to its ability to create a new market segment. This was thanks to the creativity of its founders and their willingness to take risks by making a counter-intuitive move: Widespread in the 1950s, double G logos were identified with cheap and low-end products. Recognizing this, Guccio and Aldo Tomasi di C Vendeuvre instead placed a single G on their label, which became one of the most recognizable logos in history after it appeared on television as accessories for the fictional character Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Henceforth, everything about the brand would feature that solitary G from stationery and packaging to advertising campaigns, storefronts, and even the famous green stripe is woven into every piece.
The History of Gucci Shoes
In 1921, Guccio Gucci emigrated from Italy to the US and opened a luggage and leather goods shop in New York’s Little Italy. His goal was to create high-end products using materials of the best quality at affordable prices, with a special focus on shoes. As Gucci himself said, “Shoes last longer than shirts and they are the first thing to be looked at when one is dressed.” His wife, Alda, and his other five sons joined him as the business grew. However, Gucci’s fortunes were disrupted by the Great Depression, and he went bankrupt in 1932. During the war years, Gucci was employed as a salesman for the U.S. Office of War Information. After the war, he set up a small shop in Manhattan’s Soho district once again, making high-quality leather goods and importing shoes from Italy. By the 1950s, the business had expanded to five stores, and Gucci had become a household name. In 1953, the Gucci family sold the business to a group of investors. Two years later, Gucci was once again at the helm, this time as chairman.
From Shoe Company to Luxury Brand
Throughout the 1950s, Gucci’s logo – a double G – was the best-known mark in the shoe business. However, as Gucci diversified and began to produce clothing for men and women, the double G logo was no longer appropriate. In 1958, Gucci decided to change the logo to a single G. The double G was already widely associated with cheap shoes from Eastern Europe, whereas the single G would be more expensive and increase Gucci’s prestige. The Logo Gucci’s choice of the logo was a brilliant example of “semiotics,” or the study of symbols and their meanings. Gucci’s logo was a G with a serif on the top, looking like an apostrophe. The apostrophe would imply that the goods were “made especially for you,” while the serif would indicate “style, elegance, and quality.” The bar at the bottom of the G signified that “the weight of this article is very reliable,” and the two parallel lines on the side of the G conveyed “exclusiveness, like a two-door car.” The logo was designed by the famous Swiss graphic designers, the Geissbuhler Brothers.
Double G and Animal Print as Marketing Tools
The Gucci double G logo appeared everywhere – from storefronts to advertising and product packaging – and, increasingly, it was accompanied by the growing use of animal print. The latter was one of the strongest marketing tools Gucci possessed: it created a clear association with the brand, and it was easy to produce. While Gucci’s clothing line was furnished with animal prints – particularly leopard and cheetah – its shoes were often embellished with gilded Medusa heads and snakes. The brand was so confident in the marketing power of these prints that they often appeared on bags without any other decoration.
Growth and Adaptation: 1983-2003
In 1983, Gucci was acquired by the corporation Fininvest, which owned the brand Benetton. The following year, Tom Ford was named creative director, and he immediately changed the brand’s look. He made the label more elegant and sophisticated, removing the animal prints and high heels from the shoes. Ford’s designs were slightly more classic, but he managed to retain the Gucci identity. He created extremely luxurious shoes, like lambskin boots with high heels. His trademark creations were the “pumpkin” suede shoes and the “Guccissima” handbags.
Gucci Today: Alessandro Michele and New Shapes
In February 2015, Alessandro Michele was named creative director of Gucci. His first collection featured his signature use of “kitsch” an artistic genre that uses images, objects, and ideas that are considered outmoded, tame, silly, or sentimental. He made use of unicorns, dragons, and retro shapes, including bow-shaped shoes and high-heel shoes with a platform. One of Michele’s most bizarre but brilliant ideas was to use a sandal with an open toe and heel, a kind of “sandal with a peek-a-boot.” He also created a sandal-boot hybrid, in which the foot is covered but the toes are open.
Gucci’s history is one of experimentation, risk-taking, and reinvention. Throughout its history, the brand has successfully used a wide array of marketing tools from logo changes and animal prints to clever product design to develop a strong reputation as one of the world’s premier luxury brands. Nowadays, Gucci is a fashion house that is known for its creative and bold designs. In a way, it has come full circle, and the Gucci logo is now a simple single G once again.