The Illustrious History of Gucci
Gucci knows leather — and luxury culture. They also know how to transition, turning a famous Italian leather goods shop into a high-end fashion label complete with leather loafers and a growing lineup of sneaker styles.
Guccio Gucci founded the brand in Florence in 1921. Serving as a porter at the Savoy hotel in London, he handled his share of luggage, giving him the spark to return to Italy and create his own leather luggage line. He also made saddles for horseback riders. The Gucci brand was known for its bags, and by the 1950s, everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Jackie Kennedy was toting Gucci products. The Bamboo Bag was popular — a Grace Kelly special — and throughout it all, Gucci continued to work in details from his saddle days, such as the horse-bit feature and a red and green woven stripe.
The 1950s was also when Aldo Gucci, Guccio's son, turned a New York visit into a new idea for the family's leather know-how: loafers. The leather loafer, which included a golden horse-bit detail, kicked off Gucci's foray into footwear. The sports influence soon entered the Gucci culture, starting with classic tennis fashions, which gave rise to the 1984 launch of a Gucci Tennis sneaker. While this debut marked a key entry into sneakers for Gucci, recent times have seen the Kering-owned brand (who also owns Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent) embrace a broader range of streetwear-accepted sneaker models. Under the design direction of Alessandro Michele, Gucci has highlighted additional silhouettes, giving fans of the brand an ever-widening range of sneaker options.
Popular Silhouettes from Gucci
Gucci may have turned leather luggage and bags into loafers, but the brand embraced sneakers first with an affinity for tennis. That tennis inspiration has returned throughout the Gucci lifestyle, influencing everything from loafers to sneakers. But in updated creations, Gucci has moved to keep a touch of nostalgia in play while moving forward in modern style.
- The 1984 launch of Gucci Tennis was the first non-loafer sneaker for the brand. Gucci entered the sneaker culture of the 1980s, offering an authentic luxury component to sneaker collecting. Donning a pair of Gucci Tennis sneakers represented a status symbol unlike any seen in sneaker culture at that time.
- Gucci had a true tie to the origins of its sneaker business when it launched the Gucci Ace in 2016. This low-top sneaker presented a mix of bright colors and confident patterns, giving a court-inspired backdrop for plenty of designs in the Gucci brand.
- The chunky '90s fashion trend came to life at Gucci in 2018 with the release of the Rhyton sneaker. A different take on style than the rest of the Gucci sneaker lineup, the Rhyton has proven one of the most popular silhouettes for the brand, pairing patterns and colors atop a chunky sole and overlay-filled upper design that brings the '90s to life in classic Gucci style.
- A mix of Gucci roots takes form in the Tennis 1977 silhouette. As the brand says, the style pays tribute to different eras of Gucci history, from both the world of sports and leisure. The design, offered in low and high-top versions, again loads on pattern and color.
- The Gucci Screener may not be one of Gucci's most popular models, but this 2019 debut from Alessandro Michele gives the brand an additional retro-inspired design.
- The 2020 release of the Ultrapace R gives Gucci its first sneaker design with a futuristic take, rather than looking back at classic and retro designs. Bright colors highlight the tech-driven design.
Key Gucci Collaborations
One of the most popular Gucci collaborations puts a Gucci spin on The North Face brand. This 2021 release combines Gucci luxury with a rugged outdoor model. For in-house creations, Gucci's most popular collaboration on the collectible market is with Disney. This 2020 release, featuring a mix of designs across a variety of silhouettes, has given the likes of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck their most luxurious home.
Gucci Sneakers: Collectibility and Value
The original retail prices of Gucci's luxury products push resale prices higher. With retails often ranging from $600 to $800, the most popular styles on the resale market can add a premium of $100 or more. The most expensive Gucci-made product on the resale market is the Gucci Screener Art Deco GG, a special-edition design that was $1,600 at retail and resells for about the same. The Gucci Rhyton x Disney Donald Duck had a retail of $890 and runs for over $1,000 on the resale market.
In fact, the entire Disney collection fares well on the resale market. Another popular Gucci collaboration, the Gucci x Doraemon Ace, depicting the popular Japanese manga character, resells for over $800. The Gucci name translated well to outdoor culture as the Gucci x The North Face Boot has more than doubled its retail price on the secondary market, with styles sometimes going for $2,000 or more on eBay.
Gucci in Popular Culture
Gucci epitomizes luxury culture. From its rise in celebrity culture in the 1950s — think Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy — the Gucci brand signified indulgence. While the style and popularity have ebbed and flowed over the generations, Gucci has long held steady as a status symbol in the fashion world — and sneaker realm.