Handbags - Feature Article

Fashion History: Gucci

In recent years, Gucci has had a fervently strong social media presence and has really pushed their image to new heights. Whilst it was established almost a century ago, it has managed to keep up with the times and has been particularly popular with the millennial generation. Whether Lil Pump’s hit ‘Gucci Gang’ is what spurred the Gucci frenzy amongst the younger generation is debatable, but it has no doubt made its impact amongst the crowd.

Since current creative director Alessandro Michele took over in 2015, Gucci have been rethinking their engagement with millenials and how they respond to fashion and culture. The brand has started to work more closely with streetwear, where the heart of youth engagement lies. In the past, they have worked in collaboration with streetwear blogs such as Highsnobiety and Hypebeast. However, despite appealing to a younger market, the fashion house has continued to create quality, standout designs.

It is evident that Gucci has been considered, for the most part, the must-have brand amongst celebrities, social media influencers and average Joes and Janes alike. However, if we rewind a century ago, we can see that Gucci actually originated from humble beginnings. The luxury brand was founded by Guccio Gucci, born in 1881 in Florence, Italy. Gucci was the son of a leather goods maker who originated from Northern Italy. Ironically, Gucci was not too particular fond of following in his father’s footsteps and had his eyes set on the horizon. As a young man, he travelled to major cities including London and Paris, working as a waiter, dishwasher and concierge.

Whilst working as a porter at The Savoy Hotel in London, he felt inspired by the luxurious luggage sported by the urban visitors. The smart travel bags sparked his desire to return home and open his own leather goods workshop in Florence, after working for the Ditta Franzi, where he took up most of his training.

The first Gucci store was established in 1921 in Florence and from here, Gucci and his family embarked on a revolutionary path in luxury fashion and the brand quickly became known for its impeccable craftsmanship. Gucci was particularly inspired by horseracing and embedded many equestrian elements into his designs. In 1953, Guccio Gucci died in England but his family continued on his legacy by taking the brand overseas the very same year.

Gucci has produced some pretty iconic designs over time, from the gilded snaffle loafers to their GG-symboled belts. One of the early mainstays of Gucci was its leather handbag with bamboo handles, which first emerged in 1947. We stock a pre-loved Bamboo Classic Top Handle in coral with gold hardware and a pink leather interior. The unique design idea of bamboo handles came to fruition during World War II when most materials were rationed and craftsmen were forced to find alternatives that aren't restricted. Thankfully, bamboo cane could still be imported from Japan and the Gucci craftsmen then developed a patent to heat and bend the bamboo into the desired handle shape.


For a couple of decades, the brand’s popularity dipped slightly, but made a significant comeback in the 1980s, re-establishing itself as a highly-esteemed luxury brand.

Tom Ford was appointed as Creative Director in 1994, and had joined the brand under tense times. Ford was able to take the brand in a ‘sexier’ direction and the runways at Gucci shows began to ooze glamour. However, Ford left his role in 2004 following a dispute with a major shareholder. To fill his shoes was Frida Giannini, who had just spent five years prior at Fendi. She joined Gucci just at the tender age of 24, working as the director of handbags. Giannini’s was a master at retransforming existing Gucci elements such as the floral pattern and the red and green equestrian stripes into fresh, modern-day looks. Much of her inspiration was drawn from 70s music, especially the works of David Bowie.

Current creative director Alessandro Michele, teamed up with CEO Marco Bizzarri, has taken the brand to new heights recently with its bold, colourful, often wacky designs that really make the fashion house particularly memorable. When Michele was first appointed Creative Ddirector in 2015, the industry were surprised considering he was relatively unknown, previously working as an accessories designer for the brand. His style was significantly different to predecessor, Giannini. The free-spiritedness of his designs really embody fashion on a new level and embraces a maximalist culture with booming prints and curious textures.

For the AW17 campaign, Michele and his creative team took to social media to create their own meme-inspired luxury watches named #TFWGucci (That Feeling When). The campaign created ‘relatable’ style memes which featured a synchronised swimmer dressed head-to-toe in Gucci, as well as the new watch, with the caption “When you have Aquagym at 3 PM but you need to accessorise your existential angst eternally”. The intention of the campaign is to demonstrate that once you put on the watch, it changes the way the world is seen around you.


As accessories go, Gucci’s latest handbags really push the envelope and make bold statements about fashion. Their Sylvie leather mini bag in hibiscus leather, for example, takes a classic shape and decorates it with a chunky gold chain and buckle. Gucci designs are truly not for the faint-hearted; it’s either go loud or go home. Our pre-loved Gucci Blue Alligator Leather & Snakeskin Trim Small Lilith Top Handle Bag circa 2017 is a piece that is a real eye-catcher. On the flap is a striking snake design contrasted by a cute bow on the handle.


If you would prefer to dial it back a bit, our pre-loved GG Supreme Coated Canvas & Green Python Leather Medium Dionysus circa 2016 is a great choice for the daily. It is sized well to throw in all your daily essentials and still retains that overall Gucci-feel with its coated canvas monogram print and antiqued silver hardware.


What makes Gucci’s pieces particularly outstanding are their motifs such as the Dionysus buckle and the GG logo, which Michele and Bizzarri wanted to prominently feature on Gucci handbags and accessories. According to Bizzarri, six of seven of Gucci’s best-selling and high-margin accessories were created by Michele.

It is clear that whilst Gucci has shed its skin numerous times over the decades, its evolution over time is one that reflects the society we live in. Ford’s designs mimicked the chic glamour of the 90s, Giannini’s sleek and decadent collections mixed old and new, whereas Michele turns towards a more modern, digital world for its source of inspiration.

Head online to Xupes to discover our complete collection of pre-loved and vintage Gucci handbags.