Luxury used to be a synonym for quality. Fashion’s most storied brands built their brands on the best materials and the most skilled craftspeople, then charged customers a premium for both. But at some point over the last 15 years, things changed.
Luxury now isn’t about selling the dream but about creating an emotional response and the feel-good factor it generates.
In the 21st century the style trends of the fashion industry dominate the world more than they ever did, and control not only the way people dress but also trends in home ware design, makeup fashion and people’s overall attitudes. In the 60s flower power did not only mean flares and tunics, it summed up the whole attitude of a generation, and this is even more prominent today.
Nowadays, fashion is bold and daring, and this reflects a noughties generation that is not afraid to say what they think, or wear what they want. Fashion is not just a means of clothing your body, it is the essence of your personality and beliefs, and designers are well aware of the power they hold. Designers’ predictions and designs for the coming season are more hotly anticipated than any other revelation in the world.
Trends in fashion unify women and men around the world, yet they still allow people the ability to portray their own individual style at the same time. A period of time portrayed in a picture can be identified immediately just by the style of clothes the people are wearing, and this sums up just how powerful and all-encompassing fashion is.
Fashion can change from one second to the next, but what never changes is the hold it has over society, and the role it plays in the modern world. Fashion is so important that whole magazines are dedicated to it, TV programs dedicate hours of transmission time to the subject, and people discus it between their friends continually.
High fashion - more eloquently known as haute couture - is the creation of exclusive clothing made from exceptionally high quality fabric and sewn with expert finesse by trained hands.
Luxury fashion houses design, create and market high fashion clothing and accessories which are trend-setting, limited in quantity and extremely expensive to purchase.
For labels to be classified as a high fashion brand, the designer must show their collection at one of the world’s four annual major fashion weeks in Paris, Milan, London or New York.
Many of the world’s top designer brands are based in Europe, most notably across France, Italy and the UK, and despite global economic uncertainty the luxury fashion sector continues to grow faster than many other industries.
Top Designer Brands
Founded by Guccio Gucci in 1921, the label is one of the original luxury labels and one of the world leaders in apparel and accessories. The label is best known for its extravagant style and luxury textiles. Gucci continues to redefine fashion to fit the 21st century while representing the highest quality of Italian craftsmanship and attention to detail.
Prada always thinks outside the box and doesn’t create their designs based on preconceived styles or fashion trends. As a result, the label prides itself on the uncompromised quality and freedom of expression. The Italian luxury fashion house is one of the biggest names in the industry, founded in 1913 by Mario Prada. Specializing in leather handbags, travel accessories, shoes, ready-to-wear, perfumes, and other fashion accessories, the brand has managed to stand the test of time.
Salvatore Ferragamo’s dream was always to transform his brand into a great fashion house, so when he passed in 1960, he left it as his legacy, hoping his family would fulfill his goal. Eventually succeeding, Salvatore Ferragamo is now one of the biggest and most well-known shoe labels, made from high-quality leathers and other unique materials.
Founded in 1925 in Rome, Fendi is one of the original designer brands, reaching over 90 years of age. The Italian fashion house was just a fur and leather shop when it was first launched by Adele and Edoardo Fendi. Keeping to their roots, the label is still, to this day, the only brand to have an in-house, fur atelier. Their product line also includes bags, shoes, accessories, eyewear, fragrances, leather goods, and ready to wear clothing.
Stella McCartney launched her brand in 2001, owning a 50% partnership with the Kering group. The label was one of the first fashion brands to join the sustainability movement, choosing to follow in the footsteps of her mother, Linda McCartney, an animal rights activist. Due to this, the brand uses non-violent materials to create their ready-to-wear clothing, accessories, lingerie, and eyewear, strongly believing in sustaining the planet and taking care of animals. Stella McCartney menswear has a unique urban look and is known for its soft tailored shapes and sporty feel.
The French luxury fashion and perfume house were founded in 1952 by designer Hubert de Givenchy came to prominence through his mastery of silhouette. The label strikes the perfect balance between traditional and modern style, keeping to a casual yet classic look that has been inspired by many artists, friends, muses and loyal clients. Though the fashion house is now owned by the luxury conglomerate, LVMH, the brand is still known for being one of the original top-designer brands, and a leader in the fashion industry.
Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé, founded the brand 1961. The French luxury house is still considered one of the world’s most prominent fashion houses, known for its modern and iconic pieces. Saint Laurent embodies youth culture and emphasizes gender-fluidity through their gender-neutral clothing and simple, yet classic style, that’s explosively cool, entwining rebellious, punk with luxury.
Balmain has a design heritage of rich decorative fabrics and luxe trims. The label uses innovative ways to embody its French legacy. It has a unique style and immaculate craftsmanship that is evident in the small details. Each design carries one of their signature embellishments, including their gold medallions, the new re-designed logo, buttons and symbols, the blazon coat of arms, their gold ornaments, or tassels. Recent designer collaborations include H&M, and Victoria’s Secret.
Balenciaga is now more than 100 years old, with the luxury fashion house being founded in Spain back in 1917, by Cristóbal Balenciaga. Though the brand is now owned by the French multinational company, Kering, they have managed to uphold the label’s high-end status, as well as its on-trend style that can only be described as inventive, expensive, and bold.
The French fashion house was founded in 1970 and created by Kenzo Takada, whose Japanese background inspired him to create the brand’s looks based on his Japanese influences and the culture of Paris. For that reason, the company has upheld his creative concept to this day, merging exotic prints with an ethnic twist, as well as many floral designs.
British fashion designer, Lee Alexander McQueen founded his label in 1992 after completing an apprenticeship at London’s prestigious Saville Row. Exaggerated shapes and innovative tailoring combined with traditional techniques are the label’s key look. Punky streetwear and strong graphic effects are also an essential part of the brand’s DNA.
Louis Vuitton decided that he wanted to become a trunk master at the ripe age of sixteen. Not only did this lead to him becoming a designer, but also an inventor, creating locks that had never been seen before. The brand continues to be best known for their bags and luggage, with travel remaining at the heart of the house alongside their RTW collections.