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Who doesn’t want to own a Hermès Birkin bag, a Rolex Daytona, a Tiffany ring, or a pair of Gucci sneakers today? Conceptualised by the most valuable fashion brands globally, these offerings became a runaway success owing to the ingenuity and creativity of the best fashion designers worldwide. These brands serve as best examples of fashion business management, adhering to a set of core principles and standard business practices. These luxury fashion brands are redefining the segment by pushing the boundaries of socio-cultural norms and leaping into technological advancements. The standard practices instituted by these brands form an integral component of the curriculum of fashion design courses.
Trends such as social commerce, metaverse and sustainable fashion, gender-fluid clothing lines and size inclusivity have added a new dimension to the luxury fashion industry. 2022 promises to be a fruitful year with high-end fashion brands exploring innovative approaches to a digital environment and social commerce, with the mainstreaming of nonfungible tokens, gaming ‘skins,’ and virtual fashion.
Here are the top 10 luxury fashion brands which will shape fashion trends in 2022.
Louis Vuitton: Owned by French luxury fashion conglomerate LVMH, Louis Vuitton started as a luggage manufacturer and rapidly transformed into one of the most valuable fashion brands. With its signature LV monogram, the brand is a one-stop-shop for handbags, shoes, watches, leather goods, trunks, jewellery, fragrances, accessories, beauty and skincare products. Some of the world’s renowned celebrities and influencers serve as its brand ambassadors, including Alicia Vikander (Swedish actress), Sophie Turner (English actress), Léa Seydoux (French actress), Emma Stone (American actress) and Naomi Osaka (tennis player). The brand has implemented an environmental policy as a cornerstone of its growth for the past 27 years. Its new Life 360 plan is based on four tenets: i) Protect biodiversity in partnership with UNESCO and Canopy; ii) Fight Climate Change, iii) The circular economy; and iv) Transparency.
The brand has recently unveiled the City of Stars fragrance. The scent is a complex blend of five citrus notes- blood orange, lemon, red mandarin, bergamot and lime that almost act as a refreshing illuminator along with sandalwood and tiare flower notes. It has also appointed Miley Bobby Brown as its brand ambassador. The actress of 'Stranger Things' fame debuts in its eyewear campaign alongside Karlie Kloss and Lous and the Yakuza.
Gucci: Founded in 1921, Gucci amalgamates meticulous Italian craftsmanship with current design trends to produce some of the most noteworthy pieces. The brand is best known for harnessing digital technology, including e-commerce, digital gifting, split payments and AR-powered try-on features on Snapchat. Gucci also embodies genderless fashion and a sustainable supply chain. It unveiled its inaugural sustainable collection ‘Off the Grid’ in mid-2020 and introduced eco-packaging. Known to be among the top luxury clothing brands, with Flora, specially requested by Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly, Gucci also offers watches, fashion jewellery, handbags, shoes, accessories, makeup, and perfumes. It maintains a strong foothold in the designer sneaker market, with The Gucci Virtual 25 digital-only sneakers serving as a testimony to its commitment to innovation.
Recently, Vault- Gucci's experimental concept space has introduced an NFT project called 10KTF Gucci Grail, in collaboration with celebrated digital craftsman Wagmi-san that combines its eclectic style with popular NFT collections. It is also considered a metaverse story in which Creative Director Alessandro Michele travels to New Tokyo to meet Wagmi-san and subsequently starts a collaboration combining Gucci's real-world lines with iconic NFT art.
Chanel: Founded in 1910 in Paris by Gabrielle Coco Chanel, this is among the few high fashion brands which have become synonymous with luxury. Its ‘little black dress”, the Chanel No. 5 perfume and the Chanel Suit are among the most aspired-for products among fashion enthusiasts.
Known for its classic minimalist designs, the brand rules over social media due to its engaging and interactive content, reaffirming its legacy. Chanel launched the maiden digital-only presentation of its summer collection named ‘Balade en Méditerranée’ (A trip around the Mediterranean) in 2021. Its beauty app- Lipscanner, powered by augmented reality and facial recognition, enables customers to virtually try on the brand’s lipsticks.
Recently, Chanel reopened a seasonal boutique at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the coastal resort of Bodrum in Turkey. Designed by a renowned architect Peter Marino, the 7,500 square foot boutique carries the complete range of ready-to-wear, handbags, shoes, costume jewellery and accessories, Watches & Fine Jewelry, starting with the current Spring Summer 2022 collections. A noteworthy item is the new Chanel 22 bag made of refined quilted leather, with a leather-interlaced metal chain and adorned with the "Chanel" signature in gold or lacquered metal letters.
Dior: Founded in 1948 by Christian Dior, the brand is best known for the revival of Paris as the global fashion destination post World War II. Dior has redefined the women's luxury segment with its sophisticated, contemporary and formal styles. It was the first brand to promote its products on WeChat Moments in 2015. Its bouquet of innovative initiatives includes Dior Maison virtual boutique, an Instagram AR Virtual Makeup Filter and a virtual sneaker try-on with Snapchat. Its collaborations with streetwear legend Shawn Stüssy and Nike for the ‘Air Dior Capsule Collection’ have cemented its position among the leading high-end fashion brands.
Dior recently hosted its inaugural fashion show in South Korea, touted to be among the largest offline events in the country in two years since the pandemic. It also announced its partnership with Ewha Womans University. Under this partnership, Dior's corporate social responsibility program will offer scholarships, internships and management training and host masterclasses and talks for students in its endeavour to achieve its larger goal of women empowerment.
Armani: This brand was founded by Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani in 1975. With its three signature offerings- Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani and A|X Armani Exchange, the brand focuses on three core audiences- affluent customers, mid-range customers and young audiences. Armani is implementing an AI-powered omnichannel model by enabling its customers to check product availability in inventory across its digital stores and physical boutiques. It also collaborated with MR PORTER to unveil a one-of-its-kind 23-piece capsule collection of modern tailoring inspired by styles and silhouettes of the 1980s and 1990s.
The brand has unveiled the sustainable Emporio Armani SS22 capsule collection in a range of innovative fabrics passed through carefully monitored green production processes. The collection plays with striking patterns and colours whose inspiration comes from the idea of a concrete jungle surfer, entwining themes of city living, tropical colours, and summery beach days. The collection features sporty and dynamic silhouettes, from swimsuits to cycling sets, as well as oversized shirts and workwear jackets. Other items in the sustainable collection include organic cotton denim jeans, recycled elastase vests, 987 and a new bio-based accessories collection.
The brand also launched the Armani/Values Initiative this Earth Day. Under this initiative, the website's content is organised into three concise sections: People, Planet, and Prosperity. The various values of the brand include timelessness, fluidity, comfort, empowerment, inclusion, and sustainability, as outlined in a video on the homepage. Website visitors have access to an annual Sustainability Report and can view the brand's programs and goals on issues such as environmentalism and ethical decisions. The company is taking concrete actions to help save our Earth through programs such as reforestation and biodiversity conservation. In the Planet section, Armani outlines how their supply chain structure, production sites, material choices, collaborations and local interventions aid their sustainability initiatives.
Burberry: This is among the leading British high fashion brands founded by Thomas Burberry in 1956. Burberry is best known for its signature check design and formidable presence on e-commerce platforms. It made headlines for launching an AR-enabled shopping tool through Google Search and partnering with Bella Hadid and Rosalía to stream live its Spring/Summer 2021. This tool offers a stimulating experience to customers against other real-life objects in their environment. It is also the first luxury brand to adopt Twitch, an Amazon-owned live video streaming service. The brand has also set an ambitious goal to become climate-positive by 2040.
Burberry has been in the headlines for unveiling the Lola Bag designed by Chief Creative Officer Riccardo Tisci. The Lola bag is "a soft silhouette punctuated with the Thomas Burberry Monogram clasp and a polished chain strap." The clasp is a testimony to the legacy of the brand its founder, Thomas Burberry. Made in Italy, the Lola is also padded and softly constructed in all of its various sizes, styles and colourways, ranging from Italian-tanned leather to pale vanilla, cotton canvas to natural raffia. Burberry is also slated to introduce new, brighter colours to the collection. It has also launched a campaign for this signature offering starring Bella Hadid, Lourdes Leon, Jourdan Dunn and Ella Richards, who personify Lola's presence. The campaign depicts each model taking the reins of a faux horse with confidence, spirit and control, embodying Lola's spirit.
Ralph Lauren: Ralph Lauren is among the top luxury clothing brands founded in 1967, with Ralph at the helm. It is the trendsetter in the industry and has redefined the runway looks. The brand has recently announced plans to enter metaverse with applications including virtual fashion shows, NFT backed multimedia, virtual hotels and restaurants and virtual clothing, footwear and fragrances. Its latest unsex fragrance, Polo Earth, drawn from natural sources, speaks volumes of its commitment to sustainability.
Ralph Lauren recently launched a 13-piece vintage capsule collection entirely curated by Vogue and comprising a small-batch mix of vintage and upcycled patchwork pieces. This collection has two categories-: first, a collection of 13 vintage garments from the archive, including classic Americana pieces from a vintage denim jacket and romantic floral maxi dresses. Second, it features a unique patchwork skirt, classics like a crisp, prep-style white blazer with gold hardware and two Polo Ralph Lauren dresses crafted with upcycled textiles (vintage scarves, vintage Ralph Lauren samples, and vintage print strike-offs) into lovely patchwork dresses.
Hermes: Originally founded as Hermes International by Thierry Hermes, the brand has become synonymous with the scarf and the Birkin bag. Hemes counts John Lobb (bootmaker), Puiforcat (silversmith), Saint-Louis (crystal manufacturer) and Shang Xia (contemporary fine living lifestyle brand) as its partner brands. Known for using luxury materials like ostrich and crocodile leather, it recently unveiled a vegan-friendly leather bag in collaboration with California-based start-up MycoWorks. The product uses Sylvania, a new material made from Fine Mycelium (essentially mushroom roots).
Hermes has recently launched The Hermès Plein Air collection - a makeup collection comprising a complexion balm, two finishing powders (radiant and matte), a blush brush and blotting papers watermarked with a sprinkling of tiny 'H's. This makeup concoction covers three primary needs and necessities – hydration with hyaluronic acid, evening primrose oil, and Baikal skullcap protection from pollutants, enhanced by white mulberry extract, a common thread in almost all its formulas. These active ingredients have been conceived by a research and development laboratory in Vaudreuil, Normandy, with a Japanese partner.
Prada: Founded way back in 1913 by Mario Prada, this is among the leading Italian hi-end fashion brands which have withstood the test of time through out-of-the-box designs. The brand is renowned for handbags, travel accessories, shoes, ready-to-wear, perfumes, and other fashion accessories. It is also notable for the localisation and personalisation of content in Europe and China. Its initiatives of pop-up store experiments and Prada Mode events have accentuated its online presence. It has also launched Prada Possible Conversations, a series of talks on Instagram and open dialogue with its audience.
Prada has collaborated with Artist Theaster Gates to launch Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab, a three-year incubator programme aimed at supporting Black designers. Announced in Chicago, the 14 awardees were chosen by industry leaders, including Gates, Prada Group founder Miuccia Prada, writer and director Ava Duvernay, late designer Virgil Abloh, and architect David Adjaye. These designers and artists have been selected for demonstrating extraordinary achievements in their respective fields. These awardees will be granted further opportunities to foster relationships with one another, as well as with global organisations and design stakeholders.
Versace: Helmed by Donatella Versace, sister of Founder Gianni Versace, this couture is best recognised by the Versace Medusa logo inspired by the floor ruins of an area where Versace and his siblings played during their childhood. This brand has generated social media buzz with the highest engagement rates. How can one forget its partnership with Jennifer Lopez for the Super Bowl half-time show that became an instant hit! Versace has carved a niche among the best luxury clothing brands, amalgamating loud and flashy prints with classy and aesthetic designs. It also counts leather shoes and exquisite accessories among its offerings and a fashion line ‘Versus’ targeting the younger audience.
Versace has partnered with Fendi to launch The Fendi x Versace collaboration, dubbed the 'Fendace' collection, in May 2022 through a series of worldwide events and pop-ups. Instead of unveiling the entire collection in one go in mid-May, the luxury houses have scheduled a comprehensive rollout of the coveted collection throughout summer. The swap between the two brands will be presented at both Fendi and Versace online and retail boutiques in separate collections. Select 'Versace by Fendi' items will be sold by Fendi and vice versa. A collection of the Fendace co-branded looks will be available for sale from both fashion houses.
All of these brands are the epitome of luxury and define the trends in the fashion industry today. The success of these brands are often presented in the form of case studies which form a part of the curriculum of fashion business management and fashion design courses. Embodying the customer experience in their core philosophy, the success of these luxury fashion brands is rooted in the omnichannel model, crème-de-la crème collaborations and gradual adoption of sustainability. This year is slated to witness the convergence of gaming and luxury in brands' endeavour to engage with Gen Z and millennials. With the focus on conscious and elevated living, luxury brands must brainstorm innovative strategies to connect with customers, ensure the quality and timeliness of their offerings and adopt sustainability across the value chain.
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