Top fashion and luxury labels ranked by consumers' knowledge of each brand's country of origin.
Top fashion and luxury labels ranked by consumers’ knowledge of each brand’s country of origin.
Country: France. Cartier is steeped in French heritage, and it plays up the association in its marketing and products. The “Ballon Bleu” is one of the brand’s latest pillar watches. “Must de Cartier” (“Cartier — It’s a Must”) is the name of one of the brand’s recent fragrance collections. And all designs come out of its Place Vendôme atelier in Paris. Ron Frasch, president and chief merchandising officer of Saks Fifth Avenue, told WWD in January that brands such as Cartier will weather the financial storm “because it’s considered a brand with strong consumer resonance.”
Country: France. If you know Chanel, then you know Coco. And if you know Coco, you know the designer modernized women’s wear and became an enduring icon of French style. The brand, whose interlocking “CC” emblem is known by consumers worldwide, covers couture and ready-to-wear designed by the iconic Karl Lagerfeld, as well as jewelry, accessories, fragrance and beauty. The house of Chanel, owned by the Wertheimer family and headed by Maureen Chiquet, has in the past tapped popular French actresses like Catherine Deneuve and Anna Mouglalis as faces. This year, French actress Audrey Tautou became the new face for Chanel No.5.
DOLCE & GABBANA
Country: Italy. Dolce & Gabbana does not wear its country of origin on its sleeve, but nonetheless has become a $2 billion powerhouse. Its advertising, often elaborate tableaux shot around the world, takes a global perspective, and its diffusion line, D&G, doesn’t sound Italian at all. Perhaps a loyal celebrity following keeps the brand’s awareness levels high among the general public — Madonna, Demi Moore, Jennifer Lopez, Brad Pitt and Victoria Beckham are fans. The fashion house is based in Milan and was founded in 1982.
Country: Italy. The brand may be global, but its message is all Italian — thanks to the stylistic consistency and worldwide fame of founder Giorgio Armani. Armani’s new 43,000-square-foot megaflagship in Manhattan opened in February and offers the entire world of Armani. The designer remained true to his heritage and worked with Italian architects Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas to design the store’s interior. “Curved walls and tables exude a sense of movement, a feeling that is heightened by a grand staircase made with rolled calender steel and covered in a plasticized material that enhances its sculptural, vortex-like form,” WWD reported at the time.
Country: Italy. Gucci is Italian luxury incarnate; it doesn’t hurt that the iconic green, white and red stripes used on products since the Fifties recall the Italian flag. The brand recently unveiled a newly renovated Rome store and debuted a collection called Heritage. Noted the brand, “Heritage is a one-of-a-kind accessories collection which pays tribute to the Italians’ rich history.…Creative inspiration for this new project came from Gucci’s vast archives where [creative director Frida] Giannini resurrected several iconic handbag models.”
Country: Italy. While the Versace brand’s signature icon, the medusa head, may be Greek, the high-profile lives of its late founder, Gianni, and his sister Donatella undoubtedly help consumers identify the label as Italian. And fans will clearly do what they can to own a piece of the Versace life: WWD reported this month that “The Neoclassical art, sculpture and furniture that formed the backdrop of Gianni Versace’s lush life on Lake Como flew out of Sotheby’s in London, with sales hitting 5.4 million pounds, or $7.6 million at current exchange — halfway through the bidding.”
YVES SAINT LAURENT
Country: France. YSL’s global penetration may not rival other brands on this list, but its connection to Paris and the Rive Gauche, the name of the brand’s original ready-to-wear line, are legendary. Saint Laurent died last year at age 71. Over 1,000 people gathered for his funeral, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe. Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of fellow luxury group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, told WWD at the time: “Monsieur Saint Laurent was the embodiment of French haute couture for half a century. He designed for a woman who reconciled the two fundamental truths, which always guided him in his personal life: freedom and elegance.”
Country: France. The brand has been synonymous with France almost from the day Monsieur Dior shocked the nation — and the world — with his New Look. And that heritage has only grown through the years via Marc Bohan, the Italian Gianfranco Ferré, and now John Galliano. The company, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, plays up its roots, even using French in its product line with the launch of J’adore perfume in 1999. French actress and Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard is featured in the Lady Dior spring ad campaign.
Country: Italy. Valentino is synonymous with Italian glamour, from the designer’s atelier in Rome to his famously deep tan. Valentino Garavani, who retired last year, has been a household name since the Sixties and is back in the spotlight with the release of the new documentary, “Valentino: The Last Emperor.” Last fall, Valentino’s newly tapped creative heads, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, told WWD they plan to capitalize on the decade spent “working elbow-to-elbow with Valentino himself, to ferry the house into the future while remaining anchored to its history and DNA.”
Country: France. Most consumers may know Louis Vuitton is French, but it’s puzzling that one of the most recognizable brands in the world scores well below some of its French (and Italian) counterparts. One answer may be it’s non-national approach to advertising. The brand’s recent ad campaign, “Core Values,” included Mikhail Gorbachev, Catherine Deneuve, Sean Connery and Keith Richards, and focused on the celebrities rather than the brand’s French heritage. And while last year’s Madonna ad was shot in a classic Parisian bistro, the restaurant was actually located in Los Angeles — but the twist was perfect for a brand founded on a heritage of travel.
Country: Italy. This is a brand that expresses modern luxury more than the style of its native Italy, which may account for its lower score. Still, 85 percent of respondents immediately associated Prada with its native country. The Italian family history of the brand has a lot to do with its longevity: The Prada label is now nearly 100 years old. In 1913, Prada was first opened as a leather goods shop in Milan by Mario Prada, and the company continues to be owned and run by the Prada family. Mario’s granddaughter, Miuccia, took over in 1978 and she and her husband, Patrizio Bertelli, now oversee the fashion empire, which includes not only Prada but Miu Miu, Church shoes and Car Shoe.
Country: Italy. The luxury watch and jewelry company is based in Rome, but its name is actually a derivation of the surname of its Greek founder, Sotirios Voulgaris. The publicly held, yet still family-run, business, was founded in 1884: The company is celebrating 125 years this year. An exhibition, titled “Between History and Eternity,” will be held in Rome this spring to “celebrate both the founder, Sotirios Voulgaris, and the history shared by Bulgari and the eternal city.” Bulgari is known for its cabochon gemstone jewelry — its designs feature bright, colorful jewels, such as tourmalines and emeralds — but now also produces watches, leather goods, silk products and fragrances.