Founder: Guccio Gucci
Year Founded: 1921
Gucci may be as well known for its family melodrama as it is for its apparel designs and contributions. One of the founder's grandsons turned his father into the IRS for tax evasion, and another ended up allying himself with the Mafia (he was later gunned down in broad daylight, apparently as a hit ordered by his ex-wife). But what solidifies it as "one of the greats" is its invention of the Gucci loafer-a slip-on shoe distinguished by a metal horse bit or sporty striped band with the company's colors. This easily recognizable loafer soon became a staple for playboys, preppys, and anyone part of the monied or leisure class.