How Gucci Turned Lemons into Lemonade

Jun 20, 2023 | Fashion Stories

How wartime shortages shaped the house of Gucci.

Some innovations in fashion are purely creative, and some are practical. Others, however, are born out of necessity, as was the case for some of the house of Gucci’s most recognized pieces.

Clothing, luggage, and handbag makers faced challenges during the Second World War when materials like leather were rationed and imports were stalled due to embargoes. While some brands perished in the face of supply scarcity, Gucci got creative: first using hemp canvas for handbags (the birth of the GG diamond print), then silk, and then using bamboo – which could be imported from Japan- for bag handles. 

Facing a pressing need to adapt, Gucci turned lemons into lemonade. The styles that were innovated during the War remain some of the brand’s most popular to this day. 

(And, Gucci wasn’t the only brand that was forced to adapt to wartime shortages: Hermes began using their trademark orange box when it was the only color available from their suppliers!)