Making it in fashion was never easy. Making it these days is virtually impossible. The industry is saturated with designers from around the globe, and someone needs to have a real "something different" to get noticed. At the same time, if they're different for the sake of being different, they're going too far. If they dyed their hair green as a teenager, remember how quickly that stopped being cool. Trends come and go in the blink of an eye. Get it wrong, and someone could be shaded by every fashion influencer around. Now that social media is as important as the designs themselves, people don't just need a talented designer. They need strategists. Analysts. Editors. Graphics teams. Oh, and a celeb fanbase.
Some brands will never go out of style. Timeless French, Italian, or American elegance has kept brands like Chanel, Gucci, and Donna Karan afloat. But they need to watch out. The new kids on the block are bringing out avant-garde, fashion-forward designs that are turning the industry on its head. Designers like Jacquemus have the Kardashians and Selena Gomez as their unofficial ambassadors. In 2017, Drake actually wrote a song for Louis Vuitton. As the classic greats battle the up-and-coming newbies, it's 50/50...until someone gets it terribly wrong. If someone thinks they know their classics, they're not going to cut it as "relevant" until they develop that deep appreciation for the newbies. They might be young, but they're going places. Here are 25 of the world's biggest fashion designers – divided into the classics and the rising.
25 VIRGIL ABLOH IS LEADING NEW FASHION
For starters, this guy has an awesome name (that'll get you a long way in fashion). Virgil Abloh is the 37-year-old designer who took top spot as Louis Vuitton's artistic director of menswear in March 2018. The guy is a brand in his own right, though. His collaborations with Converse and "The Ten" Nike ranges have made him a bonafide superstar overnight, and everyone is wearing his latest drop. Celeb fans include Jay-Z, Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Rihanna.
24 RICK OWENS IS TURNING URBANWEAR ON ITS HEAD
If you do anything on a search engine today, Google "Rick Owens jackets." The rising king of ultra-casual, ultra-baggy streetwear is chopping up norms with his contoured, slim-fit, or loose-cut jackets, and they are a work of art. Rick Owens is an American designer who launched his first store in Hollywood Boulevard. His draped, ruched, or oversized clothing items come twanged with uber-trendy rubber-effect boots, and there's a very futuristic feel to his looks. Rick isn't hot-off-the-press new, but the effect definitely is.
23 CHANEL ISN'T DONE ON THE CLASSIC ELEGANCE
Ask any fashionista where she'll turn for the ultimate in timeless, classic elegance. Chanel will always be the answer. The house of Chanel might still be delivering its iconic boucle tweeds, but the edginess is reinventing the brand each season. 2018 channeled the clear plastic boot, but the classic Coco look is the gold standard. Purses, perfectly cut suits, angelic gowns, and funky kicks are dressing every "most stylish" celeb around, and half of well-to-do Paris is head-to-toe in Chanel.
Chanel No 5 perfume is the best-selling fragrance of all time.
22 GUCCI MIGHT BE HISTORIC, BUT IT LOOKS LIKE THIS
In 2016, Gucci took the bold move to hire an unknown accessories designer as its creative director. Alessandro Michele had already been noticed by the legendary designer, Tom Ford, but nobody expected the effect to be this successful. 2018 profits as Gucci soared by 17%, and you only need to look at this outfit to see why. The classic pieces have revamped themselves for an urban-infused, street-come-luxury finish of fine leathers, sensational sneakers, and that iconic Gucci logo. There isn't a celeb out there who isn't wearing something or other Gucci.
21 FENTY BY PUMA IS FLYING OFF SHELVES
Rihanna won't be the first musician to have dabbled in fashion. What she might be though, is the most successful. "The pop star who became a fashion powerhouse" is how The Guardian referred to Rihanna in 2017. Collaborating with Puma for an unimaginably popular sports-infused line, Rihanna x Puma has stuck this girl on the fashion map, and the singer and designer is respected. Predictions for her Fenty beauty line are definitely healthy
Fenty by Rihanna has outsold Kylie Cosmetics five-fold. It made $72 million in its first month.
20 BALMAIN IS SO GLAD IT HIRED OLIVIER ROUSTEING
Very few designers make it this big, this quickly. Olivier Rousteing is the 32 year-old creative director of the iconic French fashion brand, Balmain. Its signature double-breasted, button-embellished blazers and mini dresses have been a classic for decades, but it's Olivier who has revolutionized the brand. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have posed for campaigns, and Beyonce recently wore Balmain for her tour. Olivier's selfies are a literal who's who of celebs, and his legacy is only just beginning. Founded in 1946... but so 2018.
19 DIOR IS KEEPING IT CLASSIC
Christian Dior will always be one of fashion's greats. The French fashion house stands firmly among the power brands of Parisian high fashion, although it too is undergoing a revolution. Still keeping the classic pastels and frill laces, Dior has taken on a 2018 edge of grunge or mesh boots, but the float-effect look is classic. The 2018 runways were full of leather jumpsuits, frayed denims, sheer fabrics, and nautical stripes. Dior might have been founded in 1948, but with Rihanna and Jennifer Lawrence as spokespersons, classic is clearly worth keeping.
18 ALEXANDER WANG IS DRESSING CELEB SQUADS
With his long hair and fusion style, the Taiwanese-American Alexander Wang is getting more celeb hashtags than Coachella. Alexander Wang NY is a super-progressive blend of NYC-style streetwear and high-end fashion. Designs are stylized by jet blacks, stark whites, asymmetric lines, and a rubber-right-meets-baggy style – enough for Kylie Jenner to repeatedly step out in his designs. Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and Gisele Bundchen are all self-professed #WangGirls. His 2015 and 2016 shows were also attended by Nicki Minaj.
17 LOUIS VUITTON HAS BEEN GOING STRONG SINCE 1854
Talk about longevity. Louis Vuitton is the fashion and luggage giant ruling them all. The iconic monogrammed leathers are now found from celeb closets to our own hashtags, and owning one of these purses is the ultimate status symbol. While the monogrammed purses are an undeniable classic, the brand keeps up with the times. From the FIFA 2018 soccer World Cup collection to the hundreds of varieties filling The Rich Kids of Instagrams closets, the world isn't done with all things "LV."
To preserve its luxury edge, Louis Vuitton burns or shreds any unsold merchandise. It's also never on sale.
16 AQUAZZURA IS YOUNG BUT ALREADY LEGENDARY
This is basically the Apple store of shoes. Aquazzura is a luxury footwear brand that's come a long way since its 2011 founding. The man behind the name is Edgar Osorio. If you know anything about shoes, you'll be more than impressed with his resume – stints at Roberto Cavalli, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Sigerson Morrison more than prepped this designer for braving the waters on his own, and his exquisitely feminine designs are adored by women around the world. High-end shoes, high-end prices, though. Evening sandals cost around $1200.
15 JENNY PACKHAM KNOWS HOW TO WOW US
Jenny Packham is a particular favorite for celebrities. The British designer founded her fashion line in 1988, although the Jenny Packham bridal line only arrived in 2016. This yellow chiffon number showcases the designer's simple elegance. Charlize Theron, Blake Lively, Miley Cyrus, Oprah, and Kate Winslet form a loyal fanbase for this Brit.
14 VETEMENTS IS GIVING FASHION WHAT IT WANTS
No-one else is designing sweater dresses with DHL logos. Or knee-high boots with "made for walking" scrawled across them. Vetements (meaning "clothes" in French) is a super pared-down, casual take on high fashion that's got everyone under 30 crushing on its solid street vibes, luxury edge, and parkour-esque designs. The brand was ranked in the top five most profitable fashion lines of 2017 and 2018, and the two Georgian designers behind it are only just getting started. Taylor Swift is a huge fan of Vetements' chunky platform boots.
13 YSL IS MODERNIZING FRENCH ELEGANCE
Yves Saint Laurent will forever be associated with its prestigious Rive-Gauche Paris roots. The French designer was decades before his time in designing androgynous, liberal takes on high fashion, and his legacy remains very much alive. The YSL brand now goes by the Saint Laurent moniker, and it's got a fresh look to match. The daring leathers and shimmer fabrics forming the 2018 Saint Laurent look are the result of Anthony Vaccarello's leadership. The former Versus Versace director joined Saint Laurent in 2016.
12 GIVENCHY IS SHEDDING ITS OLD-SKOOL ROOTS
Hubert de Givenchy brought the world quintessential femininity in one boutique, Haute Couture package. The French fashion house was established in 1952 and the current artistic director is the British Clare Waight Keller. The Breakfast at Tiffany's girliness has taken on a blend of tailored satins for the modern age, and the accessories are flying off shelves. Celeb squads are wearing Givenchy backpacks with their Converses – although there is a price difference.
Meghan Markle's wedding dress was custom-made Givenchy.
11 A BURBERRY TRENCH CAN ALWAYS BE RELIED ON
If Burberry is conjuring up images of British-influenced trenches, raincoats, and that iconic Nova Check print, it's because that's what the brand is all about. While the luxury fashion house struggled in former years to fight a "cheapened" image resulting from its logo being over-worn, it has bounced back. Classic lines, quality materials, and inevitably steep prices define this 1856-founded brand which is currently valued at over $10 billion. Sherlock Holmes it may be, but it'll be one affluent detective shopping there. Trench coats retail for between $2000 and $6000.
10 OFF-WHITE IS TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL
The 2012-founded OFF-WHITE has become a no-brainer for anyone young, rich, and looking for the "in" place to shop. Virgil Abloh (whose links are also deep in Louis Vuitton) has brought out his own fashion line, and it's all anyone can talk about. OFF-WHITE is a trip down memory lane for Virgil's upbringing of hip-hop culture and street fashion, but the looks are very much high fashion. Stark whites somewhat contradict the OFF-WHITE name, but nobody was complaining when the Converse x OFF-WHITE Chuck Taylor dropped.
9 VERSACE IS STILL DRIPPING IN GLAM
The Versace fashion brand is nothing short of an empire. Donatella Versace has been single-handedly running the brand since her brother, Gianni passed in 1997. Crystal-studded shimmer and Swarovski embellishments define Versace's iconic evening wear, although Versus by Versace and the brand's denim line offer more casual attire. Flying the flag for exuberant luxury will always be Versace's thing– not surprising then, that a Palazzo Versace luxury hotel exists in both Australia and Dubai. Kylie Jenner was famously dressed in custom-made Versace at the 2017 Met Gala.
8 BALENCIAGA REINVENTED ITSELF OVERNIGHT
Balenciaga 20 years ago? A luxury Spanish fashion brand whose designs were getting as old as its 100+ years. Balenciaga has probably witnessed the biggest revamp of all luxury brands – from its political inspirations in 2017, to its Athleisure 2.0 sports line. And yes, everyone from Hailey Baldwin to the Kardashians is wearing the $850 Balenciaga Triple S MR PORTER sneaker. If you need a reminder on Balenciaga's legacy, here is it:
Christian Dior referred to Cristobal Balenciaga as "the master of us all."
7 ARMANI POWER SUITS ARE STILL DRESSING WALL STREET
At 83 years old, Giorgio Armani is still dressing every power suit in New York. (And Paris, and Milan, and Los Angeles). The Italian designer built his empire on classic lines, demure style, and understated elegance that has clothed every hotshot lawyer in the business. Armani's lines include a custom-made Haute Couture line, Armani Exchange, Emporio Armani, plus Junior and the homeware, Armani Casa line. Whether its draped couches or power suits, the Italian simplicity always shines through. Old-school, but such a classic.
6 SPORTY MILLENNIALS ARE LOVING P.E. NATION
When Margot Robbie is stepping out in your gear, you're going to post it to the company Instagram. Bold, block-colored, and unique with its boxy motifs and edgy vibes, P.E. Nation is an upscale sports brand worth having on your radar. The brand markets itself as "The Ultimate Activewear Concept," complete with a nostalgic nod to physical education. Think 2018-vamped '80s leggings, sports-centric cropped tops, bomber jackets, and lots of reds, whites, and blues. Pip Edwards is behind the brand, but Kaley Cuoco and Gigi Hadid are behind it.
5 YEEZY IS YOUNG, RICH, AND IN
The Yeezy seasons just seem to roll in one endless blur of Kim K, Kendall, and Kanye stepping out in those beige, super-clingy, or super-baggy clothes. Kanye West founded the Yeezy fashion line in 2009 with the very first Air Yeezy shoe. Deconstructed, shredded materials and a natural feel to beige, white, taupe, or black colors give Yeezy clothing a back-to-basics feel, but the prices are anything but.
The back-to-basics feel symbolizes Yeezy. At $850 for Yeezy Boost 350 V2, the resale price is anything but basic.
4 DOLCE & GABBANA IS BEAUTIFUL AS EVER
Despite some isolated outspoken moments (like Domenico Dolce calling Selena Gomez "so ugly" in 2018), the 1985-founded Dolce & Gabbana brand remains untainted. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have built an empire on their high-end designs, loud prints, and sneakers, and this stuff is quality. D&G may be 33 years old, but the look is anything but old. Think gold and flower-embellished kicks, logo-bearing backpacks, and signature corseted tailoring. Oh, and Emilia Clarke as the brand's face. In 2018, the D&G collection had "love" as its theme.
3 TOMMY X GIGI IS TWO YEARS YOUNG
In 2016, the sports-centric Tommy Hilfiger joined forces with one of fashion's more profitable models. Gigi Hadid is racking up the Instagram followers Kendall Jenner style, with over 40 million of us following her. The collaboration was one all-American, sports-loving take on the jet-set lifestyle. Racing stripe prints, speed logos, and in-your-face badges make the Tommy x Gigi collection different from the rest, and 2018 marks the collaboration's fourth season. Gigi told Vogue that she "loves the shapes and their ability to be worn as a fashion statement that is functional."
2 OSCAR DE LA RENTA WILL ALWAYS BE ELEGANT
Oscar de la Renta is a brand where the clothes are as fancy as the designer's name. Full evenings gowns and bridal dresses are this fashion house's signatures, although 2014 was a difficult year as the designer passed aged 82. Oscar de la Renta gowns may seem ethereal, but the prices aren't for the faint-hearted. Custom-made Haute Couture gowns can cost $20,000, and even the Ready-to-Wear items can demand $5000. His creations have been worn by First Ladies, well-to-do-brides, and celebs like Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba, and Cameron Diaz.
1 MAXIME SIMOENS GOT BIG FAST
When Emma Watson is wearing your designs at multiple high-profile events, you've made it as a designer. In 2013, Emma wore this shimmery Maxime Simoens dress to the MTV Movie Awards. Three guesses whose designs Emma has been spotted in since. At 33 years old, Max is an "invited" member of the Chamber of Parisian Couture union. After training with Elie Saab, and Dior's John Galliano, Maxime started up shop in 2009.
Beyonce wore Max Simoens for her album cover. His clothes also featured heavily in Gossip Girl.
You can never have too much style. Whether you're an old-schooler or up for the rising brands, you've likely got major fashion envy after these 25. Hit share on Facebook for anyone you know who eats, sleeps, and breathes fashion.