It’s not typically the fit, look, or style of luxury clothing that attracts people and entices them to pay high prices, but what the brands themselves represent. The top design houses in the world are akin to status cars: wearing clothing with certain labels means you’re either arrived in life, or simply have the extra cash to spend. Fashion’s most prominent brands are big-time influencers that have literally changed the world of high end retail.
Here are ten of today’s top luxury fashion brands.
London’s Burberry brand has been around since 1856, and it’s known for its timeless patterns. The company’s name is synonymous with class and sophistication, and Burberry pieces are worn by a number of celebs, dignitaries, and executives around the world. Not only are the brand’s outerwear and scarves popular, so is the collection of Burberry fragrances. The company also makes fashion accessories, cosmetics, and clothing.
Executive: Christopher Bailey
Market Cap: 6.17B
Most of the top luxury fashion brands are based in Europe, but Ralph Lauren is an American brand and the rare exception. The Ralph Lauren Collection is now a global company, and it’s come a long way since it first launched in 1967. Designer Ralph Lauren started a legacy that his family continues, and the brand is known for the quality of its pieces as well as its accessibility — the vibe of the brand and look of its clothing are not at all pretentious. In addition to clothing and shoes, Ralph Lauren designs housewares, jewelry, accessories, and fragrances.
Executive: Stefan Larsson
Market Cap: 8.6B
Cartier has many branches around the world, and today the company sells more than just watches. The French brand, which was founded by Louis Cartier in 1847, was first made famous because of its watches. Now Cartier also makes jewelry and accessories, and its known as an upscale brand that embodies elegance and refinement. Cartier’s history is closely tied to celebrities and royalty, and modern royals including Kate Middleton often sport pieces from the brand. Years ago, the company was deemed to be the “jeweler of kings” by England’s King Edward VII.
Executive: Mercedes Abramo
Market Cap: Private
Coco Chanel will always be remembered as one of the most innovative and remarkable women in fashion, and her empire still stands today. Founded in Paris in 1909, Chanel is still privately owned and is at the top of the chain as far as luxury fashion brands go. Chanel sells clothing, shoes, and accessories as well as jewelry, fragrances, skin care, and makeup. Handbags are one of the company’s most well-known and recognized items, and just one Chanel purse can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Executive: Berndt Hauptkorn
Market Cap: Private
Since its founding in 1905 in London, Rolex has been one of the most prominent luxury watchmakers in the world. While many watches are seen as negligible accessories, a Rolex truly is a fashion statement. As far as dress watches go, this brand produces the cream of the crop and is often sported by high profile executives and the well-to-do. Rolex also owns the Tudor brand of timepieces.
Executive: Jean-Frederic Dufour
Market Cap: Private
Prada isn’t just a high end label, it’s one of the most popular luxury fashion brands on the market, largely due to its integration into pop culture. The company got its start in Milan, Italy in 1913 and was founded by Martino and Mario Prada. The brand dominates runways and its collections are highly sought after. Miuccia Prada, one of the company’s CEO, is regarded as one of the top executives in the fashion industry as well as a key designer. Prada produces fragrances, shoes, purses, ready to wear and exclusive clothing, travel accessories, and leather goods.
Executive: Patrizio Bertelli, Miuccia Prada Bianchi, Alessandra Cozzani
Market Cap: 66.65B
You can hardly miss most items of Gucci clothing and accessories, as they usually bear the label’s iconic interlocking logo. The Italian luxury brand is unique in that it’s popular across a wide range of socioeconomic levels. Gucci was founded in Florence, Italy in 1921 by Guccio Gucci, and today his family is still involved in the company’s operations. In addition to clothing and shoes, the brand is known for its leather accessories, fragrances for men and women, and handbags.
Executive: Marco Bizzarri
Market Cap: 14.37B
Fendi is part of the LVMH powerhouse. It was founded in Rome, Italy in 1925 and has developed an esteemed reputation in the world of luxury fashion brands. Fendi is well known for its collection of furs and leather foods, but the company also designs sunglasses and eyewear, fragrances, shoes, and watches for men and women. Fendi handbags are also a hit item that is a favorite among the wealthy and celebrities.
Executive: Pietro Beccari
Market Cap: 9.61B
If you sport a scarf or purse made by Hermes, it’s a true status symbol — not many can afford to splurge and spend well over $20,000 for just one handbag. The brand got its start in Paris, France in 1837 and was launched by Thierry Hermes. Today, Hermes is one of the most successful luxury fashion brands on the planet, and their handbags are particularly in demand. One thing that many favor about Hermes accessories is that they’re not covered in logos and have a very sophisticated, chic, and elegant style. In addition to handbags and scarves, the company produces leather goods, fragrances, watches and jewelry, clothing, and home goods.
Executive: Axel Dumas
Market Cap: 38.68B
Louis Vuitton comprises a large portion of the brand value of LVMH, and it’s known around the world as a luxury brand well worth the high price tags on its items. It’s most famous for its monogrammed handbags, but Louis Vuitton also makes leather accessories, luggage, shoes, and other fashions. It’s one of the most esteemed luxury fashion brands in the world and is frequently sported by celebrities. Even small handbags made by the company typically cost several thousand dollars each, and the most expensive ring in at tens of thousands of dollars per unit.
Executive: Michael Burke
Market Cap: 77.84B