Style Highlight: The Gucci Horsebit

Style Highlight: The Gucci Horsebit

As Gucci celebrates its centennial, the beloved Italian brand looks to the past, reconfiguring hallmarks from their archives into new styles. Gucci has many to choose from -- burnished bamboo handles, the bold Web stripe, and, of course, the horsebit. Perhaps one of the most iconic symbols in fashion, the Gucci horsebit has rich history and significance within the brand, and has been a mainstay of men’s and women’s fashion for decades. 

A Brief History of Gucci 

Guccio Gucci founded his eponymous fashion line in 1921. Born in Florence, Italy, Guccio moved to London in 1897 and worked at the Savoy hotel. It was there that Gucci observed the tastes and traveling habits of the wealthy guests who stayed at the hotel, noting the significance of equestrian sports among the English aristocracy. After his stint at the Savoy, Gucci returned to Florence to work for a luggage brand, and eventually began the company for which he would become world renowned. 

Gucci originally produced leather luggage and equestrian accessories, opening a workshop for local leather craftsmen. A trade embargo on Italy in the 1930s and scarcity after World War II forced Gucci to use materials other than leather; it was in this period Gucci developed several brand signatures, like the Rombi print on woven hemp and bamboo handles. 

The Development of the Horsebit Loafer

Soon after Guccio’s death in 1953, his son Aldo opened Gucci’s first international store in New York City. A savvy businessman, Aldo is credited with making Gucci a reputable luxury brand in America. President Kennedy even referred to Aldo as “the first Italian ambassador of fashion.” That same year Aldo changed Gucci forever with the creation of the horsebit loafer. Made up of a connected double ring and bar that was inspired by the tack component that fits inside a horse’s mouth, the horsebit proved to be a genius work of fashion merchandising. Placed atop a simple leather loafer, the horsebit was subtle enough as to not be overtly garish, but distinct enough to be instantly recognizable. The horsebit was a signifier of luxury, an understated symbol of quality craftsmanship and good taste. Beloved by movie stars, politicians, and those with a discerning sense of style, the horsebit loafer was, and is, an icon among men’s footwear. 

The Horsebit Handbag

In 1955 Gucci responded to the popularity of the horsebit loafer by creating a leather handbag with a front flap that proudly displayed the now-iconic horsebit. The simple silhouette of the bag made it ideal for everyday wear, and paved the way for the horsebit to be used on a variety of items. Adorning handbags, shoes, and accessories, the horsebit became inextricably connected to Gucci as a brand. 

Bringing the Horsebit into the 21st Century

When Alessandro Michele became creative director of Gucci in 2015, he set to work reinventing the brand. To distinguish the current Gucci from the sex-sells sensibility of the Tom Ford-era, Michele looked to the archives. Inspired by the classic horsebit loafer, Michele created the Princetown. A sleek mule with a horsebit detail, the Princetown debuted on the Fall/Winter 2015 runway and set the tone for Michele’s tenure at Gucci. Likewise, the Gucci Jordaan, a slender loafer with a slimmer horsebit than its predecessor, reworked the famed horsebit loafer for a new generation. Created in a variety of leathers, canvases, and patterned jacquards, and even lined with fur, the Princetown mules and Jordaan loafers pay homage to Gucci’s past while feeling undeniably modern. 

Gucci debuted the 1955 Horsebit bag in their 2020 Cruise collection. Inspired by the original horsebit handbag, the 1955 Horsebit bag features an adjustable shoulder strap attached with a horsebit detail, a retro front flap with the horsebit emblem, and a spacious interior with three gussets. Crafted from monogram canvas with leather trim, the 1955 Horsebit bag perfectly combines Gucci’s house codes with a contemporary practicality. Gucci soon expanded the line to include different colors, leathers, and silhouettes. By adding the horsebit to straw tote bags, leather mini bags, and monogram bucket bags, Gucci established an over 60-year-old symbol as the epitome of 21st century style. 

Gucci Princetown mule

Why to Buy the Gucci Horsebit on Resale

There are many options to consider when shopping for a Gucci horsebit piece. Would you prefer the horsebit on bags or shoes? Are you looking for a vintage item or a modern one? Which color, material, or style would you prefer? Shopping luxury resale puts the entire history of the Gucci horsebit at your fingertips, allowing you to purchase a horsebit loafer, mule, or handbag from any season. Browse our ever-growing selection of Gucci horsebit items, or contact a personal shopper to connect you with your ideal piece.