We usually identify with a specific fashion trend that defines our time. Tight jeans, baggy pants, leather jackets, spandex, these are some of the memorable trends that had dressed up generations of stylish people, who would years later laugh at their old photos.
Thanks to you and millions of label-loving people, fashion is big business. According to Statista, the U.S. apparel market is the biggest in the world, accounting for 28% of the global trade, or $331 billion.
We list down the top fashion labels that have made billions out of putting style in our clothing. They’re the ones that set the trends, which are not born out of our collective creative burst to dress our time.
Trends are calculated tactics of the fashion industry, which is not just the labels, but an entire stretch of suppliers, distributors, retailers, designers and merchandisers that make the industry one of the top tax revenue earner for the government. These fashion labels also know how to toy with our subconscious; they understand the value of logos to influence buyers as we’ve shown in one of our infographics.
Today, the sports look from the eighties is back (Olivia Newton-John, anyone?), tweaked and revamped by top brands like Gucci, Emilio Pucci and Tom Ford and served hot to millennials. But sneakers are out; today’s sporty threads match with heels or leather shoes, a reflection of our times when healthy lifestyle is meshed with casual elegance.
Here are the top ten fashion labels that you probably have helped get really rich:
10. Levi Strauss: worth $4.67 billion
Rounding up our list is the inventor of jeans. Levi’s is still going strong despite challenges from upstart fashion labels. Levi’s company registers annual revenues of around $5 billion, propped up mainly by the popularity of its ‘shrink-to-fit’ 501s. It’s been the favorite of mods, rockers, hippies, skinheads, X-Y generations, and now, the millennials.
9. Coach: worth $4.76 billion
It’s popular among fashionistas and people who love showing off their wealth through luxury items like Coach, which was founded in 1941. It’s the favorite of celebrities like Christina Hendricks and Elisabeth Moss for its durable and elegant handbags and wallets, among others.
8. Phillips-Van Heusen: worth $6.04 billion
If the name is not familiar, try these: Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and, of course, Van Heusen. The company owns the three popular brands after buying off Calvin Klein in 2002 and Tommy Hilfiger in 2010. The company introduced the world’s first self-folding collar in 1919 and, today, it’s known for high-profile campaigns like David Beckham’s endorsements. The company also supplies neckties for DKNY and Ted Baker.
7. Estée Lauder: worth $9.71 billion
The company is one of the first fashion labels to offer a wide selection of items, from clothing to perfumes, makeup and skincare. Behind the label are 40,000 employees that keep churning out millions of products to give Estée Lauder a whopping $10 billion gross sales in 2013 alone. The signature also owns luxury cosmetics, such as, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, M.A.C., and Jo Malone.
6. Richemont: worth $11.83 billion
Relatively young, Richemont was founded in the eighties selling luxury watches, jewelry, clothing, and leather goods. The Swiss company owns through acquisitions some of the world’s most luxurious fashion brands, such as, Baume & Mercier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC, Piaget, and Montblanc. Likewise, it is behind the Cartier brand, dubbed the “jewelers of kings and king of jewelries” by the king of England, and the French Chloé.
5. Christian Dior: worth $11.91 billion
It’s one of the top runway brands that produces a wide selection of both haute couture and off-the-rack clothing. Christian Dior is popular for its stylish perfumes and cosmetics, although it also sells luxury watches and jewelries. The French fashion house first gained fame for its shapes and silhouettes, creating voluptuous styles as opposed to the boxy shapes in post-war Europe. Today, the femme fatale-inspired House of Dior also caters to men through its Dior Homme division and children via Baby Dior.
4. The Gap: worth $15.65 billion
One of the iconic fashion brands, The Gap attempted to rebrand its logo in 2010 only to be cowed by loyal customers to bring the old blue box back. The signature, popular among the younger set, was originally an exclusive retailer for Levi’s until the shop started to sell its own upscale jeans at the expense of Levi’s, seen by many as a “mature” denim brand worn by someone else’s father. Fashion is the function of youth, which makes The Gap richer than Levi’s. The company also owns Banana Republic and Old Navy brands.
3. Kering: worth $15.65 billion
The signature sells luxury goods and sporting goods, including majority shares in Gucci, Saint Laurent and Sergio Rossi brands for fashion, and Puma, Cobra Golf, and Volcom for sports. Interestingly, its French founder, Francois Pinault, started the company as far removed from anything fashionable as possible, dabbling in wood trading and electrical materials.
2. H&M: worth $18.82 billion
The Swedish retail fashion label is a high-street favorite sold in 53 countries that made billions selling “disposable fashion,” that is, it continuously updates its designs to project a trend-setter look. If you haven’t known yet, the ‘H’ stands for Hennes, Swedish “for her” and the ‘M’ means Mauritz, the name of the brand’s first retailer. H&M appeals to both haute-couture and off-the-rack markets so well that it made it to our number two place of the richest fashion labels ever.
1. LVMH: worth $37.14 billion
It’s not by chance that the Louis Vuitton logo is set in gold, a color associated with luxury and wealth. The richest fashion label leaves its competitors in the dust, its value nearly twice that of its nearest contender. Louis Vuitton, in fact, is one of Forbes’ ten most valuable brands in the world last year, selling clothing, jewelry, luggage and perfume. But Christian Dior is not complaining; it’s the main holding company for LVMH with 40.9% of shares.