In 1921 Guccio Gucci (1881–1953) opened a small store in Florence, Italy, where he sold luggage and saddlery, accessories for horseback riders. Over the decades Gucci's business grew into an internationally renowned company that manufactured and distributed stylish, handsomely crafted personal items, including watches, shoes, ties, jewelry, suitcases, and scarves. Among the most popular and coveted Gucci products were handbags: a bag that is designed for women and normally used for carrying money, perfume, makeup, and other small items.
The trademark Gucci handbag, which featured a bamboo handle, was first produced in 1947. In the late 1960s, fashion trend-setter Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929–1994), former U.S. first lady, helped popularize a Gucci handbag that featured a long strap, allowing it to be carried over the shoulder. These bags came to be known as the "Jackie O," with the "O" standing for "Onassis," the name she took upon marrying Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis (c. 1900–1975) after the assassination of her first husband, President John F. Kennedy (1917–1963). By the 1980s brand name products had become especially popular and Gucci bags were among the most coveted handbags on the market.
Gucci handbags come in a range of sizes and styles. They are small or medium-sized, made of leather, canvas, and suede, and feature zippered compartments and metal locks or magnetic snap closures. Some have adjustable straps, usually made of leather. Gucci bags may be black with tan leather trim, blue and white with a leaf-and-flower design, or tan and brown with light caramel-colored trim. Many Gucci handbags feature a red and green stripe down their center and a metal Gucci logo. Some are so small that they are more like purses, small bags, or pouches primarily used for carrying money.
Gucci handbags, like all Gucci products, are prized by consumers as symbols of status. For this reason the commercial marketplace regularly is flooded with counterfeit Gucci items. Genuine Gucci bags are high priced, retailing in the many hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars and featuring serial numbers to confirm their authenticity.
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