An international consulting firm, Brain & Company, estimated that the luxury market was valued at $274 billion in 2014, and was set to grow even bigger to a whopping $280 billion by 2015. And just like only a small percentage of the world’s wealthiest people make up most of the world’s wealth, only a handful of the most expensive clothing designers make up the bulk of the luxury clothing market.
Along with being a form of expression, fashion has always been a way for people to showcase their status. Much like the size of your house or the price tag on your car, the designer that you are wearing says much more about you than just where you shop. It also says a lot about your level of income, your style and taste levels, whether you prefer funky cool, or sleek sophistication. One look at your wardrobe can tell a person if you’re a bold trend-setter like Miley Cyrus, a fearless fashion icon like Sarah Jessica Parker, or a posh sophisticate like Kate Middleton. The biggest names in high-end fashion all come with a hefty price tag, but many argue that if you can afford it, genuine luxury is priceless. And although Heidi Klum likes to remind us on every episode of Project Runway, that in fashion, one day you are in and the next you are out, luxury designers tend to last much, more longer. Here are 14 of the most extravagant fashion designers of 2015 who aren’t going anywhere any time soon.
14. Marc Jacobs
Marc Jacobs might be a household name now, but he didn’t exactly get there overnight. He put in a lot of hard work and elbow grease first. He started off as the creative direction of French designer Louis Vuitton, from 1997 to 2013. Jacobs was then listed in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world list. It’s been a year since his split with Vuitton and many in the industry have said that the designer’s work had been relatively uninspired. His spring 2015 collection put a lot more pep in his runway step, though, revamping his luxury-funky image with bold geometric shapes, patent leather, and his trademark fishnet styles that celebrities like Miley Cyrus have walked the red carpet in. His looks refuse to take a back seat. His pieces aren’t always exactly timeless, but if you wear Marc Jacobs, you will definitely be noticed. Jacobs said, “That’s what fashion is,” he continued, “that complete addiction, obsession, that I’ve-got-to-have-it need until I basically wouldn’t be caught dead in it.”
Fendi is an Italian-based multinational company that began in 1925, by Adele Fendi and Edoardo. Despite being around for 90 years, Fendi didn’t become quite the household name that is now until they went multinational in 2001. They’re most famous for their high end clothes, including fur, ready-to-wear, and also for their highly coveted handbags. In 2014, the brand announced they were making plans to use drones to show their catwalk shows. Fendi is known for mixing classic pieces with a few-off-the-wall pieces, usually with fur, to make a bold statement. By 2011, the company reported bringing in over $1 billion in profit.
It doesn’t get much more upscale than Hermes. The French designer has been around since 1837. Over nearly 200 years, they’ve specialized in just about everything. By 2008, Hermès had 14 product divisions that covers leather, scarves, ties, men’s wear, women’s fashion, perfume, watches, stationery, footwear, gloves, enamel, decorative arts, tableware and jewelry, with over 30 percent of their sales going towards their leather department. By 2011, the company was boasting over $730 million in net income.
11. Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren is one of the names on this list that could be considered the most affordable. Along with their higher end lines, they also have more affordable pieces like The Polo Sport Line (which opened in 1993), that are sold at more reasonably priced department stores like Macy’s. The company was founded in 1967 by designer Ralph Lauren. Since then, it has adopted many sub-labels including Ralph Lauren Black Label, Ralph Lauren Purple Label, Ralph Lauren Blue Label, Lauren Ralph Lauren, Club Monaco and Chaps. The label has always excelled at creating modern and sophisticated looks out of sporty attire, always with a splash of vibrant color. In 2014, the luxury brand declared $776 million in income.
The story behind Versace is one of success and tragedy. Founding by Gianni Versace in 1978, this luxury clothing company quickly shot to international fame within a decade. He figured out early on that getting stars to wear his pieces was crucial to the success of the label. So, he managed to score clients who were some of the biggest names of the 1980s including Madonna, Princess Diana, Elton John and Tina Turner. The name Versace skyrocketed, though, in 1994 when actress Elizabeth Hurley wore the famous safety pin dress on the red carpet that no one could stop talking about. Just when Versace couldn’t get any bigger, he was killed tragically by a serial killer in 1997. His sister Donatella Versace, took his place and the brand continues to be a major luxury label. She was even responsible for the dress Jennifer Lopez wore to the 2000 Grammys that made all the headlines. That trademark high-class sexiness is still a signature look with the brand today, which is how they rake in over $79 million in revenue .
If you can believe it, Burberry has been around longer than cars have. Thomas Burberry founded the company in 1856 in Basingstoke, Hampshire, selling high end outerwear. The company then opened its first store in 1891, to huge success. Over 100 years later, the brand still remains as strong, if not stronger, than ever, with multiple sub-labels including Burberry London, Burberry Brit and Burberry Prorsum. Their famous coat made of peacock feathers sells for around $35,000. This London based luxury company screams “old money” with their signature khaki trench coats and plaids. Anyone who has ever questioned whether or not the clothes make the person only need to give Burberry a try. In 2014, the company reported a net income of over $323 million.
Not many brands demand thoughts of sophistication the way that hearing the name Armani does. The company was founded in 1975, by Giorgio Armani and Sergio Galeotti. The brand is known for everything from ready-to-wear to haute couture, eyewear to interior home designs. The brand is also marketed under various sub-labels including Giorgio Armani, Armani Collezioni, Emporio Armani, AJ | Armani Jeans, AX | Armani Exchange, Armani Junior, and Armani/Casa. The brand grew bigger as stars such as Richard Gere and Michelle Pfeiffer were spotted wearing pieces. By the end of the 1990s, Armani had over 2,000 stores worldwide. The looks Armani puts out never stray too far from their roots: fashion worthy power clothing for powerful men and women. That’s why the company pulls in a reported $1.8 billion in annual revenue.
7. Dolce & Gabbana
When you see the famous D&G label, you know that the person spent big bucks to get it. This popular Italian company began in 1985, by designers Domencio Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. They quickly made a name for themselves in Hollywood by designing extremely elegant and eye-catching dresses that helped actresses to stand out in the crowd. That now-well known D&G logo on their bags and accessories has become instantly recognizable to most people, even those who aren’t into fashion. But their clothing has begun leaving a pretty signature mark with stark colors and majorly trendsetting pieces. The D&G 2015 collection is highly inspired by fairy tale and fantasy pieces. The company has made headlines in recent years for ads that many people viewed as being highly risque.
Another major trendsetting in the fashion industry is Gucci. The name alone sounds like it was made specifically for fashion, with the way it rolls off the tongue and makes a splash. The company was founded by designer Guccio Gucci in 1920. In 1921, he was able to open the doors to his first store where the label quickly became known for their high-end leather goods. Today, the company is worth an estimated $4.2 billion in revenue.
Christian Dior founded the luxury design company Dior all the way back in 1946. Over fifty years later, the brand still remains in the forefront of the haute-couture scene. Their work still includes ready-to-wear products, leather, accessories, footwear, jewelry, fragrance, makeup, and skincare products. So many designers are often accused of piggy-backing off of the inspiration of old trends to create new looks that aren’t really that new at all. But Dior always continues to put out lines that are modern and fresh without coming across too over-the-top, which is so often the case with haute-couture. In 2011, the company declared over $24 billion in annual revenue.
The name Chanel has become synonymous with high-end fashion and has been for decades. Maybe that’s because the brand has been around since the 1920s, when fashion designer Coco Chanel launched her first perfume line and introduced the Chanel suit. But it was the little black dress that really set Chanel over the top. Coco Chanel was quoted saying, “luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it’s not luxury.” Nearly 100 years later, Chanel remains in the forefront of luxury fashion trends and have never found themselves irrelevant thanks to continuing to push boundaries. That’s probably why the company is currently worth an estimated $7 billion.
Few names invoke thoughts of luxury the way Prada does. And with good reason. And an estimated $9.4 billion of worth in the company, those price tags don’t come cheap. Prada products include everything from ready-to-wear leather and fashion accessories, shoes, luggage, watches, outerwear, and more. In 2007, Prada even collaborated with LG Electronics to launch a Prada series of mobile phones, making them a highly coveted luxury label to carry, despite the fact that most people have trouble footing the bill. But when it comes to their ready-to-wear, Prada’s eclectic mixing of prints and fearless experimenting with fashion makes anyone who wears the label the ultimate trendsetter.
2. Louis Vuitton
What is probably the biggest name in luxury handbags and accessories, Louis Vuitton has been boasted by basically every A-list celebrity and entertainer you can think of. Although it’s their handbags and luggage that usually make the most appearance, Louis Vuitton ready-to-wear and evening wear is never far behind. Founded in 1954 by Louis Vuitton, the company also specializes in shoes, watches, jewelry, accessories, sunglasses, and books. The LV logo is one of the most highly recognizable in the fashion industry, as well as one of the most frequently brands made as knock-offs. Found in 50 countries with more than 460 stores worldwide, Louis Vuitton declared its company value at over $28 billion in 2014.
1. Oscar De La Renta
Oscar de la Renta is one of the biggest names in the fashion industry for a very good reason – he dresses some of the biggest names in the world, literally. He made a name for himself in the 1960s, when he began dressing First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Since then, he has been a household name and the go-to designer for anyone looking to make a bold but sophisticated statement, from the red carpet to presidential inaugurations. In October 2014, the famed designer passed away due to complications from cancer at his home at the age of 84 years old. Countless celebrities spoke out to honor the designer’s talent and many years of notable work. The company remains in the forefront of luxury labels for wedding dresses and formal evening attire.