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Fashionable Eyes on the Financial Prize

Rachelle Evans

Mar 22, 2024

Fashionable Eyes on the Financial Prize

Georgia Gutkin

The work created by popular fashion brands catches the public’s eye within seconds. Dior’s collections define extravagance and ultra-femininity. Mugler crafts style from silhouettes that boast bold shoulders and cinched waists. Louis Vuitton infuses its infamous logo into both basic and unique men's and women's clothing collections.

These luxury retailers have achieved their high status by tapping into fashion genius. Currently, nine major brands have stolen the heart, and more importantly, taken from the pockets of consumers. They have managed to monopolize the industry out of the everyday consumers’ sight.

Ranging from net worths of $5 billion to over $30 billion, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, Armani, Estée Lauder, Christian Dior, H&M, Michael Kors, and LVMH have dominated couture markets. These brands have mastered the art of turning their influence into profit. But, less clear has been how these high statuses were eventually achieved.

Thierry Hermes created the first luxury fashion brand. Hermes dominated retail not only through intricate runway designs, like the brands mentioned before, but also through culturally iconic handbags. The Hermes Birkin is a standard for wealth in popular culture today. This bag, which has been analyzed to be a better investment than most stocks, has grown in popularity and price. Costs now range well above the average person’s everyday purse budget, with basics starting at $10,000 and customs going for over $2 million, the Birkin is the epitome of the luxurious handbag space. Sales grew over 20% in the summer of 2023 alone, withstanding the decline of the overall market. Despite Hermes’ seeming success, other fashion brands have managed to speed past this predecessor. For the highest-earning houses, fashion is not seen as moving art; instead, it is an avenue for profit generation.

Fashion market royalty all created their monopolies through similar advertisement and financial techniques. The number one trend amongst them is finding the seemingly perfect balance between accessibility and overexposure. To do this, these luxury brands sell their products in high-end stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman but shield themselves from stores with less societal power. Even more so, their overt advertising tactics are consistently done with class.

Since these brands have reached retail stardom, marketing is done for them. Public figures who sport custom luxury pieces that followers idolize and long for make the brands more desirable without consumers even realizing. Many magazines promote these items through celebrity marketing tactics. For example, Vogue’s wedding series dives deep into the wealthy weddings of socialites and media darlings. In one issue, Sophie Turner’s Louis Vuitton-designed wedding dress turned the heads of both the public and fashion elite. In movies and shows, everyday people with disposable income may see their favorite actress wearing a beautiful luxury gown and turn to the nearest high-end department store to fulfill their desire for social recognition. Ariana Grande’s connection to Miu Miu has garnered the brand loyal fans and modes for profit.

More notable is the tactical investment acquisition these houses engaged in on their come-ups. In 2022, Dior churned out 8 runway shows, the most for that year following lockdowns from COVID-19. Louis Vuitton, owned by LVMH, was closely behind. Historically, these brands have not disappointed either. They made their mark on the runway by pouring early profits into shows that gained the attention of prestigious fashion critics and the ultra-wealthy. Celebrities who line the front rows scout out new pieces to display on their media, garnering even more attention and money for the fashion house. In promoting their designs in an artistic, unique, and tangible way, investors in the audience were delighted to promote their brands.

The fashion industry is an incredibly interesting market. It is influenced by creativity, artistry, and pop culture. Yet, it is still difficult to understand how our beloved brands gained much attention and buzz at their onset. Nine retailers were able to see the fashion world beyond clothes. This strategic business-oriented vision established how society views fashion today.

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