GUCCI

1968 : September: An old cigar shop in the lobby of the St. Regis Hotel is converted into a stand-alone Gucci shoe boutique. The store's opening coincides with the introduction of a new variation on the women's moccasin, which, as the Times reports, now features "a metal chain motif on the instep which is also repeated in the stacked heels." At $35, the shoes are an affordable status symbol, particularly among young female professionals. Gucci will soon be selling 84,000 pairs a year in the U.S., and 24,000 in New York alone. October: After a two-year delay, Gucci's new Florence flagship on Via Tornabuoni finally opens. A new store also debuts in Beverly Hills-one of the first luxury boutiques there-with a star-studded fashion show. According to legend, Frank Sinatra sends his secretary to the Rodeo Drive location to buy him a pair of moccasins before it has even opened to the public. Worldwide net assets now stand at $28 million.

Aldo Gucci had the foresight to bring his wares to an increasingly wealthy American market during the boom years that followed World War II. At that time, legions of consumers in the United States were itching to spend their new disposable income on status symbols, and Gucci's fine Florentine workmanship and equestrian details offered a taste of the exotic to the women who might only recently have traveled abroad for the first time. Celebrity endorsements, of which the Guccis were early proponents, only added to the allure.

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