It is amazing how fashion has influenced the world economy and changed people’s lives for the better.
Forbes magazine estimates that the fashion industry is worth a whopping US $7 trillion, placing the fashion industry fourth worldwide after stock and real estate investments, science and technology, and food and beverage. So it should come as no surprise that there are presently no less than 30 billionaires who have made their money and wealth in the fashion industry; spread all across the world from different backgrounds and cultures, some have been in the fashion industry for decades while others are relative newcomers.
A big chunk of the fashion industry is dominated by European brands which tend to mostly focus on high end luxury products. Western Europe and specifically, French and Italian brands tend to lead the way when it comes to high end fashion. The cities of Milan and Paris are unanimously recognized as centers of fashion in the world and are home to the likes of Louis Vuitton, L’Oreal, Christian Dior, Sephora, Kering, Chanel, Hermès, to mention but a few.
If we take a quick look at Louis Vuitton for example, a brand that’s been a primary influencer for over a century; named after its founder and founded in 1854, has therefore been in existence for 166 years to date. This just goes to show how important some of these brands have been in terms of economic turnover and cultural relevance worldwide.
Italian brands such as Prada, Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Luxottica, Dolce & Gabbana and Diesel are truly established globally.
It is debatable on whether French or Italian brands lead the way in high end fashion, what we can say for sure is that both countries have influenced one another continuously and have competed in fashion against each other since the 11th century. Historically, noble families from both countries would organize grand events and try to out shine their rivals, a tradition that continues to this day. Beyond the borders of Italy and France, across Europe, you will find other luxury brands though few and far between, such as H&M (Sweden) and Hugo Boss (Germany).
In the USA though, you will find the biggest fashion company in the world, Nike. By focusing on athletic and lifestyle products, and a comparatively young company, Nike has managed to surpass and beat out its competition especially in the footwear division, which accounts for 65% of its income. Through athlete endorsements and aggressive advertising, Nike has undoubtedly become the world leader in footwear together with their sports and lifestyle products.
Arguably, outside of Europe and North America, very few fashion brands are recognizable. However, the emerging Asian economies, and many Asian fashion brands, are expected to come forward to fuel the rise in demand for luxury brands across the Asian continent and inevitably worldwide.
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