Did you know that the global apparel industry is valued at 3 trillion dollars (according to Mckinsey’s Global fashion index) while the luxury clothing industry is estimated at 300 billion dollars? *Excuse me while I pick up my jaw off the floor.
“The Devil Wears Prada” introduced me to the world of fashion and who-is-who of it. I guess it’s the case for most kids of our time, rather all of us who knew nothing about the big names in the fashion industry. Apart from falling in love with Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, my interest grew, and so I wanted to learn all about the most expensive brands in clothing and accessories. Ok fine, I will probably also confess that for a good six months my life aimed to become an haute-couture designer (also a word I learned around that time).
On a serious note, it is fascinating to learn about these big brands, when it all started and how they went on to become what they are today. Interesting right? Follow me along, and we will see what these brands are!
World’s Expensive Clothing Brands
Top 10 Most Expensive Clothing Brands In The World
Coco Chanel’s journey is nothing short of epic and legendary, which is what the brand is too. Brands with incredible stories like these are worth the tag and the price they come with. Chanel had a unique talent of reading what the world needed and making clothes accordingly. And, her designs are relevant to this day. The revolutionary little black dress (LBD) remains the must-have most priced possession in every girl’s closet. Not to forget the ‘Chanel No. 5’ perfume, which was one of its kind. Chanel was one of the very first revolutionaries who believed that luxury has to be comfortable, otherwise, it’s not really luxury!
The brand to this day continues to be at the forefront of luxury and premium brands for not just apparel but accessories too. Chanel’s brand value is a whopping 7 billion dollars owned by the grandsons of Pierre Wertheimer, who was the earliest business partner with Coco Chanel; while Karl Lagerfeld continues to be the creative director for over three decades now.
It’s been around for over a century and is probably the oldest fashion brands in the World. Thomas Burberry started this store in 1856 in Basingstoke, England, and slowly blurred boundaries. The latest additions to the brand are Burberry London and Burberry Prorsum.
The signature checkered khaki and plaid jacket is the first thing we relate to when we say Burberry. It was designed for the military and then gained popularity amongst civilians too. The design went on to become such a hit, that it’s now part of every single piece of apparel and accessory in one way or another. With an estimated brand worth $3.4 billion, only their customers understand what Burberry is.
Hermes as a brand has been around for over 200 years now. They first started in the 18th century as a label making leather harnesses, saddles, etc. and then slowly ventured into retail after Charles-Emile Hermes took charge. Adolphe and Emile-Maurice then took over from their father Hermes and got into the business of making clothes for men, women, and children.
Hermes is the epitome of sophistication and class with everything they make, be it bags, shoes, perfumes, apparel, or even interiors for the house. Just like a lot of other companies Hermes saw their share of ups and downs in business. However, they weathered all storms and continued to be a sought-after premium brand, serving the elite. With a revenue of $5 billion, Hermes has come a long way and, that’s why they say that you don’t create a multi-billion dollar empire overnight.
Miuccia Prada born in 1949, a Ph.D student in political science and a former member and activist in the Italy’s communist party is the current owner of Prada. She was the most unassuming heir of Mario Prada’s elite brand “Prada” that he started in the year 1913. Muccio took over Prada in the year 1978 when her male cousin who according to her grandfather was expected to take over had no interest in fashion or design. Mario Prada never believed in women, in general, taking up higher positions or never considered that either of his other female grandchildren was capable of doing it.
Prada was initially into making handbags, travel bags and suitcases for the Italian elite. However, when Miuccia Prada took over, she launched men and women’s ready-to-wear luxury clothing. Prada gained popularity even before this collection took off when she introduced luxury nylon handbags and backpacks without the big choking logos taking over the design element which was the scene with premium brands back then. And, that’s really why this label has always been perceived differently by their loyal customers. Patricio Bertelli, her then boyfriend and now husband helped Prada in taking it into different directions and finally opening her first flagship store in 1986. Prada eventually went public in Hong Kong and slowly opened stores world over. The company’s net worth is an estimated $2.4 billion dollars and continues to be one of the most sought-after luxury clothing brands across the world.
Guccio Gucci first started “Gucci” in the 19th century. It is considered to be the most successful Italian brands in the world right now. Guccio, who worked in Paris as an immigrant hotel worker, was fascinated with the premium handbags, leather handbags customers would bring and envisioned a business model based on the idea. He then went back to Florence, his hometown and started Gucci during the Second World War-2. His sons joined him later and helped him expand business in Milan, Rome, etc.
Gucci’s symbol got them a lot of attention, and Hollywood stars flying out of Italy started posing with these bags. That’s how they penetrated the US markets slowly. Gucci then opened its first store in New York in 1956 and eventually in the other big cities in the United States. Dawn Mello took over the company in 1989 after the company went through turbulent times with the passing of Gucci Mello. He got Tom Ford onboard as the creative director to up their apparel and accessories game. Gucci went on to sign a lot of partnership and contractual deals with other big Italian and American brands. According to Forbes, Gucci is the 38th most valued brand in the world with a brand value of$12.4 billion and sales close to $5 billion, and this speaks for itself.
Christian Dior famously known as ‘Dior’ started as a premium brand designing haute-couture for women in 1946. They later expanded into ‘Baby Dior’ for children and ‘Dior Homme’ for men. Dior was one of the very first brands to present their full-fledged collection at their residence which was also their flagship store on 30 Avenue Montaigne Paris. He presented his collections named ‘Corolle’ and ‘Huit’ with 90 different looks which were soon called ‘New Looks’ by Harper’s Bazaar. In 1947 Dior got into manufacturing perfumes with their first one named after his sister ‘Miss Dior.’
Christian Dior soon hit the American markets and expanded their brand into other segments like makeup, perfumes, accessories, and of course remained top contenders in the ready-to-wear and haute-couture segments with an estimated brand value of $43 billion.
7. Dolce And Gabbana
Dolce&Gabbana is relatively new when compared to the other big old names in the luxury brands. It started in the year 1985 by Domenico Dolce, and Stefano Gabbana and was steadfast in gaining popularity. They went on to tie up with a firm in Japan to launch their collections who exported clothes to the USA and that eventually catapulted them into the American economy.
Dolce & Gabbana started knitwear collections in 1987, and two separate lines of lingerie and swimwear which were a big hit too. Their clothes were a big hit amongst Hollywood actresses and wearing this label was considered a status symbol. They eventually got into making perfumes and succeeded by launching some of the best fragrances out there. Dolce & Gabbana’s revenue worth $1.4 billion speaks volumes about the brand.
8. Ralph Lauren
From serving the Army to becoming a salesman and now part of the ‘World’s Richest Men List,’ Ralph Lauren had a lot of firsts associated with his name. Soon after quitting his job in the army, Ralph Lauren joined the Brooks Brothers as a salesman and became the best of their lot This evoked an interest in him who then went on to make ties for men. He convinced the management to let him open his own line. Bloomingdale’s approved his first venture of making exclusive men’s collection and is the first time they let their space for a designer’s boutique.
Ralph Lauren then launched his corporation in 1971 with a Polo emblem and launched collar T-Shirts with the logo near the chest which to date are a rage. Lauren opened other labels like Ralph Lauren Black, Ralph Lauren Polo, etc. They are into perfumes, accessories, men, and women luxury plus ready-to-wear segments. Ralph Lauren is also a hot favorite in the red carpet and his famous costumes for the cast of the movie ‘The Great Gatsby.’ The corporation’s net value is estimated at a whopping $5 billion as we speak.
Gianni Versace is an Italian, who comes from a family of designers. His introduction into fashion happened quite early because of his mother who was into the dressmaking business. Fashion and designing clothes came to him inherently, as he started working for his mother right after his high school. He later moved out to Milan and started freelancing. Eventually, he began his label ‘Versace’ in the year 1978 and launched his first ready-to-wear collection. Versace always worked with his brother and sister who helped him in expanding horizons.
Versace launched his first couture collection in 1989 and subsequently two other labels called ‘Versus’ and ‘Instant.’ He was also the very first designer who understood the importance of a Hollywood star or a supermodel presenting collections. They slowly moved into accessories, perfumes, swimwear, etc and built an empire worth $800 million in less than a decade. Ironically Versace was murdered by a serial killer in 1997 right outside his house in South Beach, Florida. His sister took over the reins of Versace ever since and the brand has been nothing but unstoppable with a brand value of $5.8 billion.
10. Giorgio Armani
Giorgio Armani is nothing but sheer sophistication, and if you see someone wearing the label in any capacity, you know that they belong to the cream of the society. Armani started the ‘Giorgio Armani Corporation’ in the year 1978 in Milan. However, his fashion journey began in 1958 where he worked with different Italian brands designing exclusive men’s wear. His fashion stint helped him build a strong network within the industry, which compelled him to open a brand of his own.
Giorgio Armani signed an agreement with L’oreal, and that propelled them towards making perfumes. Around this time they expanded into Armani Jeans, Armani Kids, Emporio Armani. They have close to 2000 stores in Europe, USA and across the world. Over the years Armani continued to increase their market share consistently, and with an estimated brand sales of over $3 billion, there’s no looking back.
So, here ends our list of the most expensive clothing brands in the world. Burberry trench coat, a Chanel handbag, Versace gown and a suit from Giorgio Armani have forever been part of my checklist. Let’s see how many I get to tick and when. Which one is your favorite popular clothing brands from this list and also what does your checklist look like? Let us know by dropping in a text in the comment section below!