The 50 Best Designer Brands You Need to Know
Since this pandemic started, we have seen the world go through so many changes, but a year in, we’ve learned to somewhat adjust. Many industries have seen a decline, some even had to shut their doors, but the fashion industry, more specifically the luxury brands, has not suffered too much.
People might feel like treating themselves to that one special item they’ve had their eye on now that they have to prioritize. If we realized one thing in the past year it is that we should try to change our priorities, and go for quality over quantity.
For decades, the fashion industry has been oriented towards mostly women, because they were the ones to follow trends, to take care of their appearance, and to be more active consumers than their male counterparts. But in the last few years designers have started catering to men as well, since they have started taking more care about the way they dress than in the past.
We are not quite there yet, but this competitive industry is slowly shifting, and trying to be more inclusive. Although we are in 2021, most ateliers are still based in Europe, but they are slowly expanding to America, Australia, and even Asia. We hope eventually the whole world will have better representation in this industry, but at least some tiny strides have been made.
So what exactly constitutes a luxury brand? It is a brand that produces high quality items, be it clothing or accessories, from the best available materials and personalized craftsmanship. They do not mass produce, like the fast fashion brands do. Their items are more unique but can also be quite more expensive, therefore are considered investment pieces.
Unless working with an unlimited budget, most of us will choose wisely before spending our hard earned money into a style that does not represent us and our personality. That is why we decided to compile this list, so you can have an idea what each brand represents, and which one suits your values the most.
This list mixes some of the brands that have been around for more than 100 years, but we also included some newcomers to the scene. They all have their particularities and specific products they specialize in, but they all make a difference to the fashion industry with their ingenuity and originality.
Let’s take a look at the 50 best designer brands that made our list for 2021.
- 50. Marni
- 49. Zimmerman
- 48. Victoria Beckham
- 47. Maison Margiela
- 46. Moschino
- 45. Lanvin
- 44. Isabel Marant
- 43. Giambattista Valli
- 42. Chloe
- 41. Celine
- 40. Alexander Wang
- 39. Paul Smith
- 38. Balmain
- 37. Thom Browne
- 36. Berluti
- 35. Max Mara
- 34. Diesel
- 33. DKNY
- 32. Off-White
- 31. Lacoste
- 30. Michael Kors
- 29. Stella McCartney
- 28. DSquared2
- 27. Oscar de la Renta
- 26. Ermenegildo Zegna
- 25. Miu Miu
- 24. Tom Ford
- 23. Ralph Lauren
- 22. Kenzo
- 21. Calvin Klein
- 20. Bottega Veneta
- 19. Comme Des Garcons
- 18. Burberry
- 17. Dior
- 16. Alexander McQueen
- 15. Hermes
- 14. Giorgio Armani
- 13. Salvatore Ferragamo
- 12. Valentino
- 11. Hugo Boss
- 10. Fendi
- 9. Balenciaga
- 8. Givenchy
- 7. Dolce & Gabbana
- 6. Prada
- 5. Versace
- 4. Chanel
- 3. Saint Laurent
- 2. Gucci
- 1. Louis Vuitton
Created in 1994 in Milan, this fashion house has at its head Swiss designer Consuelo Castaglioni. It is an avant-garde brand that offers you ready-to-wear collections and accessories.
This Italian name has become one of the top brands that celebrate individuality by creating innovative prints while playing with colors, shapes and materials. Their distinctive style is achieved by keeping up with the art world, a great source of inspiration for this brand.
Sisters Nicky and Simone Zimmerman launched this brand in Sidney, Australia in 1991. Flowing romantic silhouettes, bold floral prints and their bohemian beachwear collection is popular with influencers and celebrities.
It is a very feminine and colorful brand that allows the free-spirited women to express themselves. They also have a children’s line and accessories.
48. Victoria Beckham
British singer/fashion designer Victoria Beckham launched her brand in 2008. Her focus is on ready-to-wear, handmade leather bags, accessories, and shoes. Her clean lines and simple classic designs are her signature style, and she knows what women like to wear.
Each item is well-cut and flatters any shape, that is why her brand is one of England’s most popular designers. Also, the fact that she made her brand completely fur-free is another reason for her success.
47. Maison Margiela
Established in Paris in 1988 by Belgian fashion designer Martin Margiela, this fashion house quickly became known for their unconventional ways of doing things. For example, they have hosted fashion shows on street corners and empty metro stations, and the models cover their faces with their hair on the runway.
Their unique deconstructed looks are still popular today, and their philosophy is that they want the focus to be on their clothes, not the people who created them.
Created by Franco Moschino in 1983 in Milan, this quirky brand established itself on the fashion map with its innovative designs. The brand consists of other labels as well, Moschino Cheap and Chic, and Love Moschino.
Jeremy Scott, their creative director, uses the most unusual inspiration for their funky designs. The witty slogans and large graphics are their trademark. If you’re looking to stand out from the crowd, this is the brand for you.
The House of Lanvin was created in Paris in 1889 by Jeanne Lanvin. She started designing milliners which were worn by all fashionable Parisians at the time. Her extraordinary vision encouraged her to design a sophisticated wardrobe for her daughter, which eventually got her recognized and was able to open her own shop.
This incredible woman built an empire with children’s clothing, hats, women’s collections, lingerie, perfumes, and much more. Her legacy lives through today, but with a contemporary approach to Parisian life.
44. Isabel Marant
Isabel Marant’s brand was first launched in 1990 under the name “Twen”, but she decided to let it carry her name in 1994. Known for casual Parisian style and high-street shoes, this French fashion house has brought us some of the most effortless and bohemian collections to date.
If you want to express your unique and carefree style and do it with comfort, then you have to try this brand.
43. Giambattista Valli
A fairly newcomer to the fashion world, the brand was introduced in 2005 by Gianbattista Valli. He had some experience coming into this by working for Fendi, Roberto Capucci, and as creative director at Emanuel Ungaro. Their focus is on leather goods, accessories, and ready-to-wear clothes. If you are into ruffles and floral prints, this is the brand for you.
They try to bring their style to a younger, more inclusive generation, and they even collaborated with H&M to promote easier access to Haute Couture.
Founded in 1952 in Paris by Gaby Aghion, of Egyptian-Jewish background, the label Chloe differentiated itself from other fashion houses early on. Body-conscious feminine clothes have always been their predominant style even at the beginning.
Their designs are considered fresh and effortlessly cool today, and their inspiration is the 1970s flowy and carefree silhouettes.
The brand, founded in 1945 in Paris by Celine Vipiana and her husband Richard has undergone many transformations throughout the years. The first Celine store they opened was for made-to-measure children’s shoes. By 1960, their focus shifted to ready-to-wear sportswear and a wide array of leather goods.
In 1964, the trench coat became their bestseller, and in 1987 the brand was acquired by the LVMH group. It has evolved since the new creative director Hedi Slimane took over a few years ago. Youth culture and Indie rock are their current inspiration.
40. Alexander Wang
American fashion designer Alexander Wang is one of the newcomers to the luxury fashion industry. He started off with a knitwear collection in 2005, followed by his first women’s collection in 2007.
Also known for the ”t-shirt man”, his style is inspired by NYC street culture, and is more mainstream than some of the older, more established fashion houses. His love of leather, denim and knits still dominate his collections, along with bold patterns and shades.
39. Paul Smith
British fashion designer Sir Paul Smith launched his first line of men’s clothing in the 1970s. His brand focuses on formal wear combined with high-fashion elements.
The timeless pieces of their collections are custom tailored, but the abstract prints bring an edge to your wardrobe. For those of you who like to bring your own style to the traditional suits, this brand will accommodate you.
French fashion house Balmain opened its doors in 1945 and was founded by designer Pierre Alexander Claudius Balmain. When they started off their focus was on post-war bell-shaped skirts, and celebrities such as Katharine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich adored the tiny waist design.
Their signature original style is kept alive today, but modernized and embellished with lavish details. The chic monochrome and retro revival of the elegant silhouette is the dominant influence of their new collection.
37. Thom Browne
An American designer that revolutionized today’s uniform, Thom Browne launched his menswear collection in collaboration with Brooks Brothers in 2006. In 2014 he debuted his womenswear collection to complement the men’s one.
More informal than other brands, he produces gender-fluid pieces that are modern yet classically designed.
Founded in 1895 by Alessandro Berluti, this brand’s focus is on pret-a-porter menswear and quality leather goods. This is one of the few fashion houses that caters mostly to men and their needs.
Their unique leather finishes that are predominant in their shoes, wallets, belts and tote bags are all constructed with the highest standards of craftsmanship, from the best quality materials.
35. Max Mara
Established in 1951 by Achille Maramotti, this Italian designer was very ahead of his time. Max Mara predicted that fashion will become mass produced, and that with time it will be more accessible to the average consumers.
That is why his style is more classic and neutral, and offers you great timeless pieces that you can cherish for years. The great quality of its Italian craftsmanship is shown in every piece designed.
Founded in Italy in 1978 by Renzo Rosso, this is a more younger and trendier clothing label. Their main focus has always been denim, but they expanded throughout the years to include apparel, footwear and accessories.
Streetwear inspired and fashionable, Diesel‘s high quality products are stylish yet affordable.
Founded in New York City in 1984, the brainchild of designer Donna Karan is a more casual take on style. The menswear collection came along in 1992, and both lines are heavily influenced by the Big Apple’s attitude and lifestyle.
It is considered an accessible luxury brand, due to their casual approach and attainability.
Virgil Abloh is the genius behind this brand that he created in 2012. This newcomer established himself as one of the most creative minds in the fashion industry with his original designs. This luxury brand features zip ties, quotation marks, and four-way arrows in their streetwear clothing line.
They embrace urban designs along graffiti prints, and use them with materials such as silk and velvet. Welcome to a new way of wearing your one-of-a-kind curated style.
Renowned tennis player Rene Lacoste created this label in the 1920s. Their iconic alligator logo is famous throughout the world, and their overall style is casual but well tailored.
Their primary products are athletic and outerwear clothing, along with their shoe line. All of their products are made from durable, high quality materials.
30. Michael Kors
American designer Michael Kors launched his first women’s collection in 1981 at Bergdorf Goodman, where he got his start. However, he was forced to go bankrupt by 1993, and he struggled to reenter the fashion industry for a few years.
After several unsuccessful attempts, he relaunched his brand in 1997, and he’s been around since. Almost every woman in North America owns some item carrying his name, such as a bag, wallet, or shoes.
29. Stella McCartney
Created in 2001 by designer Stella McCartney, the brand is one of the first to focus on ethical and sustainable fashion. She has changed the fashion world with her use of recycled and organic materials in order to create cruelty-free clothing.
Her designs embrace femininity, and her sharp tailoring will bring any women’s confidence up. Look for their ready-to-wear collections for men, women, and children, along accessories and fragrances.
Founded by Canadian twin brothers Dean and Dan Caten, DSquared2 is a unique label. They were born in Canada, live in London, and their clothes are made in Italy.
They offer ready-to-wear menswear in a unique style that is bold and laid back. Known for denim jackets and graphic t-shirts, they combine style and comfort, edgy and sensual.
27. Oscar de la Renta
Oscar Aristides Renta Fiallo, a Dominican-born designer that worked for Balenciaga and Elizabeth Arden established the label carrying his name in New York in 1965. Casual luxury, feminine designs that focus on great attention to detail, that’s what Oscar de la Renta is all about.
Their opulent, lavish decorations they add to their evening gowns and wedding dresses are loved by celebrities. Their main style is classic, infused with bright colors and bold prints.
26. Ermenegildo Zegna
This Northern Italian luxury fashion house was established in 1910 by Ermenegildo Zegna. They focus on menswear and use fabrics that are durable and sustainable. Their classic silhouettes in all their clothing lines are what they are renowned for.
Their craftsmanship is exceptional, and it is one of the first brands to use ecologically sourced materials.
25. Miu Miu
This subsidiary of Prada was created by Miuccia Prada in 1993. Miu Miu offers a more sensual and rebellious style that plays on masculine and feminine references. Inspired by her personal style, their avant-garde designs reflect Miuccia’s artistic upbringing. Her family has been in the fashion industry her whole life, which had a major influence on her creativity.
You can find some of their matelasse bags, embellished tops and playful dresses, along with footwear and other accessories.
24. Tom Ford
After working for labels Gucci and Saint Laurent, Tom Ford established his own brand in 2006. His style can be described as cultured and well-travelled, and he’s been dressing celebrities such as former First Lady Michele Obama and Daniel Craig for years.
His ready-to-wear lines for men and women are sophisticated, and their color palettes offer you a wide variety of choice. He also has a beauty, eyewear and accessories line.
23. Ralph Lauren
American designer Ralph Lauren started his career at Brooks Brothers as a salesman, but in 1967 he launched his own label by selling men’s ties. In 1968 he started his first menswear line which he named Polo, and his empire took off.
Today, he is still one of the most popular American brands, the epitome of preppy clothing for the entire family. He also expanded to fragrance, accessories and home goods in the last few years.
Japanese-born Kenzo Takada is a fashion designer who started his career in Paris in 1964. Combining his Japanese roots with French culture, he brought us one of the most creative fashion brands to date.
If you love bold prints and colorful eclectic designs that are not like others, then you found your label. They keep up with the changing trends, so make sure you check out their updated collections regularly.
21. Calvin Klein
American designer Calvin Richard Klein got his start by opening a coat store in the York Hotel in New York City in 1968. He evolved from the designer jean market in the mid-1970s, to the men’s underwear market that he transformed in the 1980s.
Even today the brand is still a leader in sales of underwear, but they also design casual workwear for everyday. In the last few years they expanded to fragrance, home furnishings, and more.
20. Bottega Veneta
This Venetian fashion house opened its doors in Vicenza, Italy, in 1966. They are mostly known for their “intrecciato” style of weaving leather in their bags and shoes. Fifty years later, this unique design is still popular, and they continue to focus on creating timeless and great products from high quality materials.
If you want to invest in a timeless bag or accessory, this brand will provide you with a piece to cherish for life. Their ready-to-wear collections are also classy and elegant.
19. Comme Des Garcons
The label started in 1969 in Japan by designer Rei Kawakubo. Its original focus was on denim products that were high on masculine influences, but created for women. She changed the traditional way of fashion as we knew it, and the gender fluidity of her designs made waves early on in her career.
Her identity is authentic and each piece is a one-of-a-kind. The brand is known to collaborate with new designers and new talent is discovered within her label.
British quintessential style is what characterizes Burberry. Founded in 1856 in Basingstoke, Hampshire by Thomas Burberry, an old draper’s apprentice, this brand has always focused on outdoor attire. Gabardine, the water-resistant fabric that is still used today to keep you from getting wet was introduced by Burberry in 1879.
British weather is what inspired the invention of this material, and their timeless trench coat is a must in anyone’s wardrobe. The checkered pattern is also their signature, which can be found on many of their accessories.
French designer Christian Dior launched his namesake company in Paris in 1946. In 1947 he introduced his first ready-to-wear collection, which embraced the full-skirted look, and the feminine shape was emphasized throughout the collection.
He did use some masculine influences from the second World War, which made an impact on the future of Haute Couture as we know it today. The modern day Dior collections emphasize formal and minimalist influences, while remaining romantic.
16. Alexander McQueen
British designer Lee Alexander McQueen started his label in 1992, and it carries his name up to today. Although his life came to a tragic end in 2010, his name made his brand controversial and unique.
McQueen was known for his flare and emotionally charged designs, but since Sara Burton took over the fashion house after his death, she has brought a new take on femininity while honoring his legacy.
One of the oldest luxury fashion houses in the world, Hermes got started in Paris in 1837. Thierry Hermes, the man behind the French brand, created quality wrought iron harnesses and bridles for carriages at the beginning. It was in the 1920s that the clothing collections and accessories line took off.
Their iconic Kelly bag, which was named after famous actress Grace Kelly, was introduced during the 1930s, and even today there’s waiting lists to purchase one. Now that’s what we call an investment if you can afford it!
14. Giorgio Armani
Brought to you from Milan, Giorgio Armani founded his namesake brand in 1975. His first ready-to-wear collections for men and women were released around the same time, but his popularity rose throughout the 1980s.
His clever way of advertising the Emporio line on billboards and on TV added to the brand’s growth. Formal wear and men’s suits are still their main products today because of their elegant and business appropriate attires.
13. Salvatore Ferragamo
This brand was established in Tuscany in 1927 by Salvatore Ferragamo. Women’s shoes were their main focus, and in 1938 he was the one to bring us the platform shoe, made out of cork and suede.
They eventually expanded their market to womenswear, but their iconic shoes still remain their most popular items. You’ve surely heard of their cage heels and Vara pumps, haven’t you?
Valentino Garavani established the fashion house carrying his name in Rome in 1960. Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was a big fan of his feminine and romantic influences to his designs, and she asked him to make her wedding gown in 1968.
Today, creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli carries out his legacy through excellent craftsmanship and high quality materials the brand prides themselves on using.
11. Hugo Boss
This German Luxury fashion house is headquartered in Metzingen, in the Baden-Wurttemberg area. Founded in 1924, they are one of the biggest German clothing companies today, and they also offer accessories, fragrance, and footwear alongside their clothing collections.
They started off by designing uniforms for the German army during World War II, but since the death of Hugo Boss after the war, his son-in-law focused on work uniforms before shifting focus to men’s suits. Today, their clean lines and simple designs are timeless and accessible.
Established in Rome in 1925, the House of Fendi started off as a luxury fur and leather goods brand. Recently, they have started using faux fur materials in support of environmentalists groups, but their main products are still in the leather goods category. In 1965 creative director Karl Lagerfeld transformed the brand to what it is known today.
Due to some financial hardships, Fendi joined the LVMH group in 2001, along with some other fashion houses. They survived due to their quirky and unique flare they bring to the fashion world.
Cristobal Balenciaga opened his first clothing store in San Sebastian, Spain, in 1917. He dressed the royal family and the Spanish aristocracy of those times, but only after the second world war did he succeed in expanding his brand. His brand and style focused on heavy fabrics, embroideries, and bold colors and materials.
New artistic director Demna Gvasalia brought a change to this fashion house in 2015, when he took over with his sense of humor and innovative ways of approaching design through his raw energy and love for the abstract.
The Givenchy fashion house was established in Paris in 1952 by Hubert de Givenchy. His first creations were cotton blouses and skirts for women. From the 1950s until the 1970s, Givenchy used Audrey Hepburn as their muse and inspiration, and they designed her famous black dress and wide-brimmed hat that appeared in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.
Another famous dress to add to their portfolio is Megan Markle’s wedding dress, which was designed by their first female creative director Clare Waight Keller.
7. Dolce & Gabbana
Founded in 1985 by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, this famed Italian brand does clothes very well. Dolce embraced his Sicilian roots and used them as an influence for their collections, which had a huge impact on the Italian fashion market.
Their vibrant and colorful designs as well as their eclectic taste are beloved throughout the world. They also have a fragrance, lingerie, and beachwear line, which are a complement to their usual ready-to-wear collection.
The brand established themselves as a luxury leather goods label in 1913 in Milan. The company remained in their family for many generations. Mario Prada’s granddaughter Miuccia took over in 1978, and in 1993 brought us its subsidiary, Miu Miu.
Their first womenswear line was showcased in 1988, but their signature accessories are still very much their main products even today. Clean lines and luxurious fabrics are their focus, inspired by art that has surrounded them for decades.
Gianni Versace launched the label Gianni Versace Donna in 1978, but after his death in 1997 his sister Donatella took the lead. She has carried his legacy of bold feminine aesthetics and makes him proud.
Remember the famous green dress J LO wore at the Grammys in 2000, or Elizabeth Hurley’s black dress from 1994? That is the type of loud, vibrant style you will find at this opulent luxury fashion house.
Founded in Paris by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, this luxury fashion powerhouse is one of the most renowned in the world. She started off what became an empire with a millinery shop in 1909. By 1913 she started making ready-to-wear sports attire for women in jersey cloth.
The simple line Chanel suit made its appearance in the 1920s, as well as the classic perfume Chanel No.5. Known for “the little black dress” and their overall classic designs, the brand will simply never go out of style.
3. Saint Laurent
Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge were the designers that established this powerhouse in Paris in 1961. Le Smoking Tuxedo for women they brought to the fashion world in 1966 is what brought them their fame.
They have since expanded to jewelry, beauty and fragrances, and their French glamour is what people expect when they think of the house of Saint Laurent. Their iconic logo can be recognized from anywhere in the world.
Guccio Gucci created the brand that carries his name in Florence in 1921. His inspiration came from a set of leather luggage he saw at the Savoy Hotel in London, and the rest is history. He created the leather goods brand Florentine style, and the double G logo came a few years after that.
A family business that has seen their share of controversy as well throughout the years, the iconic Italian brand is now part of the Kering group. Their signature design is recognizable throughout the world, which makes them one of the best luxury brands in the world.
1. Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton was founded in 1854 in Paris by Louis Vuitton Malletier. This iconic brand’s monogram was invented by the man itself, after he started making flat-topped trunks from Trianon canvas. By the first World war, the brand was already making its signature quatrefoils and flower designs on their travel goods they are still known for today.
Louis Vuitton, along with Moet and Hennessy got together in 1987 to create LVMH luxury goods conglomerate. This visionary brand is today’s biggest and most popular luxury goods fashion houses on the planet.
This sums up our list of our take on the best designer brands in the world. Surely you’ve heard of at least some of them?