Apparel and luxury brands are hot commodities worldwide, according to global research agency Millward Brown, which unveiled its 2014 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands Wednesday.
The firm, which specializes in advertising, marketing communications, media and brand equity, reports that luxury brands rose in valuation by 16 percent, the greatest increase since the recession, to a combined value of more than $111 billion. Despite changes in shopping behavior, the leading brands remain constant with seven of the top 10 brands remaining in the luxury ranking since 2006. Louis Vuitton continues to reign as the number-one luxury brand for the ninth year in a row. Vuitton grew 14 percent in the last year and is now valued at more than $25 billion.
Hermès, Gucci and Prada round out the top four places of luxury brands. Burberry had the highest percentage growth of 42 percent with a brand value of nearly $6 billion, moving up to eighth-highest ranked luxury brand.
Anastasia Kourovskaia, vice president of the parent company’s Millward Brown Optimor division overseeing Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said winning strategies by luxury brands to grow brand equity include a renewed focus on exclusivity over accessibility to mass audiences, and a shift away from prominent logos to more subtle fashion statements.
“During the recession, luxury became a stealth indulgence after years of conspicuous consumption,” said Kourovskaia. “Marked by that experience, today’s shoppers continue to adopt a more considered approach to their luxury lifestyle choices favoring design and craftsmanship over ostentatious displays of status. Many luxury brands are shying away from an overt focus on increasing market share and distribution to highlight their exclusivity.”
Meanwhile, apparel is the fastest-growing sector in brand value among the 14 key areas of the global economy examined by BrandZ, growing 29 percent year-over-year. The ninth release of the study measures consumer brand perception along with financial data to calculate brand value.
Among this year’s top 10 apparel brands, Nike was named the most valuable, stealing the top spot from Zara by increasing 55 percent to a brand value of $24.6 billion. The strongest rise, however, came from Uniqlo, which rose by 58 percent to $7.3 billion, moving up two notches to take the number-four spot. The only decliner in the top 10 was U.S. yoga brand Lululemon, down 13 percent to ninth place and a valuation of $3.3 billion.
Also making the list were three designer names: Ralph Lauren, which fell two points to the sixth spot but with a 13 percent gain and a valuation of $6.32 billion; Hugo Boss, which inched up one point to eighth position with a 28 percent increase and valuation of $4.5 billion, and Tommy Hilfiger, which made the list for the first time in 10th place with a brand value of $2.004 billion. British fast-fashion retailer Next held seventh place with a 39 percent rise and brand value of $5.7 billion.
Based on the fortunes of similar and competing companies, the results of the study reveal how a brand and its portrayal via communications are critical to a brand’s relevancy with consumers as well as its financial success, said Oscar Yuan, vice president and head of brand at Millward Brown.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest across the apparel category,” said Yuan. “One of the big trends in the branding world is brands are increasingly going across categories, like Apple is not just a computer company anymore, it’s a consumer electronics and goods company.…Nike is a great brand. They really are not just here to sell sports apparel, they’ve gone beyond their [traditional] category into that of a digital brand.…Their innovation is second to none in the sports apparel industry.”
Sizing up Zara — which slid one point to second place but still rose 15 percent to a brand value of $23.14 billion — Yuan said how the fast-fashion brand scales its supply chain model to new markets such as China will be critical.
“They do design and manufacturing in-house, and that explains their dominance [in Europe]. But they’ve been moving into new markets they’re not familiar with over the past year, with China becoming their second market,” he observed.
H&M maintained the third spot with an increase of 22 percent and brand valuation of $15.56 billion.
“H&M is fantastic at creating partnerships like David Beckham’s swimwear line,” said Yuan. Beckham’s swimwear for H&M launches today.
Regarding Uniqlo, Yuan lauded the fast-fashion retailer as the “largest single brand value in the ranking.”
“Uniqlo really understands that shopping and clothing is an experience, and they are great at creating an experience, like when they partnered with [the Museum of Modern Art]. They are trying to make their spaces more like a museum than a store, and they encourage people to sit and revel in the space,” explained Yuan.
The Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger names are part of the top 10 list because of a global demand for American designer brands, particularly in China.
Addressing Lululemon and its 13 percent drop in brand value to ninth place, Yuan said, “Consumers are looking for brands that are relevant to them, that understand the lives they are living and are compassionate.…Chip Wilson’s [Lululemon’s former chief executive officer] comments about consumers being overweight after that quality control problem [transparent Luon yoga pants] became a huge issue.”
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion