November 12, 2013

Who Are You Wearing: Fashion’s 39 Most Popular Brands

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A few weeks ago, powerhouse men’s style blog Four Pins published a study that attempted to answer an age old question: what are the most popular fashion brands in the world? Previous attempts to answer this question had focused solely on sales figures. The problem with that metric, however, is that it neglects to account for expensive and hard to find luxury brands that many people lust over via the internet, but would never have the funds to actually acquire. For example, is Old Navy more popular than Prada? This newly released study would answer that question with a resounding no. While Old Navy’s much more competitive prices leads them to register far more sales per year than Prada, popularity is redefined to be synonymous with desirability. Four Pins ranked the 39 most popular fashion brands in the world based on how often the brand name was Googled. In today’s technology based world, the frequency of a brand being searched is a fair way of judging how many people are interested in their products. Without further ado, here is the list of said 39 brands, along with some (hopefully) witty commentary and an explanation of each brand’s placement on the list.

39. Alexander Wang

“Spending everything on Alexander Wang/New slaves.” As Kanye recently clarified on his most recent album, Yeezus, Alexander Wang’s clothing will cost you a small fortune. The minimalist street-goth fashion house has certainly appealed to many members of the hip hop community in recent years with luxe fabrics and simple designs, earning several other name-drops in hit songs. Aside from having one of the best-assembled showrooms in SoHo and a mysterious summer sample sale — I wish I skipped my Hamptons trip to attend — Wang’s 2012 appointment as Creative Director of Balenciaga will mean good things are to come for the young Parsons graduate and his brand.

38. Dolce and Gabbana

Pending the final appeal of the two designers’ tax evasion case, in which they were found guilty and ordered to pay damages significant enough to shut the company down, the classic Italian brand may be a distant memory by this time next year.

37. Brooks Brothers

Leave it to the oldest men’s clothing chain in the United States to stay relevant by sticking with what has worked. Founded in 1818, Brooks Brothers is practically a study in consistency, delivering classy menswear staples to upper middle class businessmen. They also benefited greatly from the publicity of their Great Gatsby campaign, which featured a “West Egg” inspired collection for sale and the exclusive rights to design every costume worn in Baz Luhrmann’s new extravagant interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel.

36. Christian Louboutin

More commonly referred to as “Red Bottoms” in the world of popular culture due to their ruby red soles, Christian Louboutin shoes are the the desire of men and women everywhere. The incredibly expensive French designer’s footwear collections, distinguished by said soles and the Medieval torture device-esque spikes that adorn many pairs, are some of the most coveted all over the world. While I would venture to guess that the vast majority of the brand’s searches were conducted by women salivating over the Barneys New York online shoe department, it is at least worth mentioning that their men’s loafers and sneakers have seen increasing popularity ever since Kanye West donned a pair of studded black velour loafers to Paris fashion week in 2009.

35. Victoria’s Secret

As a guy the only two cents I can give is that I prefer to see their products on person. I mean in person.

34. L.L. Bean

My only rationalization for this high of a ranking would be that there are more ruggedly dressed New England fathers searching the internet for clothing than anyone had previously anticipated. Or maybe the economic recession has turned some of those family vacations to the Bahamas into a family camping trip in Vermont. Either way L.L. Bean makes quality outdoors clothing, but should definitely not be worn by anyone under the age of thirty unless you are actually in the wilderness.

33. J. Crew

Because we are Cornell students, I don’t really see a need to say anything about J. Crew. Look at the frat guy on your right. Now look at the frat guy on your left. That is what J. Crew is.

32. Givenchy

Even if you have never heard of this French fashion house, I can guarantee that you have seen their clothing on some of your favorite rappers. Easily recognized for their signature Rottweiler, religious iconography, floral prints and star-patterned shirts, the brand began ascending into the spotlight thanks to the help of Kanye West and Jay Z’s Watch The Throne album and tour. In 2011, Givenchy’s creative director Ricardo Tisci was asked to help design the album’s cover art. The shirts that both artists wore while on tour were part of an exclusive Givenchy collection named after the album. While $700 for a t-shirt might be out of most peoples’ budget, celebrities have fallen in love with the brand ever since. From 2 Chainz at the VMA’s to a pregnant Kim Kardashian in a custom all-over floral print dress at last year’s Met Gala, Givenchy has been the “it” label for the past two years.

31. Saint Laurent

Rebranding is hard. Just ask Alpha Chi. However, the now Yves-less Saint Laurent has made a seamless transition and remains one of the most influential and well-respected brands in the high fashion world. At this year’s VMA’s, 30 Seconds to Mars’ frontman Jared Leto wore a $7,000 pair of leather Saint Laurent pants and made the majority of blog’s best dressed lists. I sincerely hope that for that much money they found a way to make leather both breathable and flexible for the sake of poor Jared’s nether regions.

30. Steve Madden

Betches love shoes.

29. Uniqlo

If you like ceiling-high stacks of plain sweaters and t-shirts in every single color imaginable without any sort of design, then Uniqlo is the brand for you. This Japanese casual wear brand expanded to the U.S. only seven years ago, but already occupies a large storefront in Soho. Despite their reputation for being one of the best places to find the “bare necessities” of a stylish wardrobe, I feel pretty confident guessing that most of the people searching their name are located somewhere in Asia.

28. Marc Jacobs

I’m not quite sure whether the designer is more famous for his outrageous antics or his popular line of womens’ bags and shoes. Either way, both his Marc Jacobs line and the more affordable Marc line offer a nice, yet indistinguishable, variety of fashionable pieces for both sexes.

25. Levi’s/Ugg/Banana Republic

Jeans, Tom Brady’s favorite shoes and middle school teacher wardrobes. Dope.

24. Dior

Another brand whose clothing is pretty much relegated to socialites and rappers. You wear Dior either while you “summer” somewhere in the south of France, or while you hangout with your buddy Pusha T. They do make some pretty popular makeup and sunglasses though.

23. Burberry

Their iconic print makes this British brand one of the most recognizable in the entire fashion world. While they do sell more than scarves and dress shirts, they probably could make this list just off the number of women in Manhattan who searched for a Burberry scarf online this past November.

22. Versace

“Versace, Versace, Versace, Versace, Versace.” If Migos’ eloquent words weren’t enough to convince you that Versace is amazing, Yeezus, the holy style god (blessed be he), said in a recent interview with BBC’s Zane Lowe, “Versace is the greatest designer of all time!” If you ever have the desire to dress like a European gangster or like a modern-day cartel head, then the all-silk ensembles of this storied Italian fashion house are for you.

21. American Eagle

I guess a lot of middle schoolers shop for clothes online.

20. Prada

Elegant, Italian and expensive. Women lust after their bags — and if any of you guys happen to land a job on Wall Street you should become pretty familiar with their suits and formalwear.

19. Abercrombie

Excuse me while I find a gorge to hurl myself into. [20 minutes later] After being saved by one of those newly installed nets, I’m back to inform you that Abercrombie may just be the worst brand in the entire world. For starters anyone who still wears their clothing looks like a douchebag trapped in a bad 90’s sitcom. On top of that, their CEO Mike Jeffries may be a descendant of Hitler. He actually said this: “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

So yeah, if you own any of their clothing donate it to your local homeless shelter as part of the #FitchTheHomeless campaign.

18. Hollister

In middle school Hollister was always Abercrombie’s less popular cousin from California. They are also owned by Abercrombie, and thus have Mike Jeffries as their CEO as well. Again, round up all of that pre-frayed So-Cal nonesense and donate it.

17. Converse

Chuck T’s are an American classic, so be like Wiz Khalifa and keep reppin’ that Taylor Gang.

16. Louis Vuitton

If you exclude the fact that every woman would love to have a brown monogram “baby Louis Vuitton under her underarm,” I’d bet that a lot of these Googles can be attributed to 13 year old boys in Westchester and on Long Island looking to burn through some of that Bar Mitzvah money on a “swagged out” belt to sag their jeans with. But in all seriousness Louis Vuitton is the clean-up hitter on the lineup of luxury designer leather products. Hopefully they continue their dominance even with the loss of Marc Jacobs as their creative director.

15. Old Navy

Normal clothes for average Joes. I guess people really did think that was Kim Kardashian in their commercial.

14. Hermes

Their 2013 Spring/Summer men’s collection included a $91,500 t-shirt made of crocodile. To get the orange you need to spend quite a lot of green.

13. Michael Kors

Remember that time Nicki Minaj said that you “couldn’t get Michael Kors, if you was f*cking Michael Kors!!” Well she lied. In fact Michael Kors is what’s known as a faux luxury brand. It tries to portray a sense of exclusivity similar to a Gucci or Louis Vuitton, except without the same quality or craftsmanship. I guess they have successfully been fooling a lot of you ladies.

12. Forever 21

“I don’t know about you but I’m feeling 22.” No but seriously, if the quality of their clothing got any worse they would just be draping shoppers in piles of fabric and thread without even worrying about sewing them together.

11. Gucci

Back in the good ol’ days if you were really stylin’ you would throw on as much velour and interlocking G print as you possibly could. Now, the Italian brand is most notorious for their formal wear and leather products. Although Gucci is no longer the go-to brand for the hip hop community, it does have two things going for it: One, everyone in Italy owns one of their belts and two, James Franco models for them.

10. Vans

This is why I put them on my “Men’s Fall Essentials” list. They are the perfect casual wear sneakers and they literally come in every color.

9. Chanel

From the “little black dress” to their No. 5 perfume, Chanel may be the most influential fashion house in the history of female style. Coco was a genius and it’s good to see that the popularity of her designs still endures today.

8. GAP

I guess parents need clothes, too. Once I too have lost faith in the world and turn to style suicide you may find me digging through mounds of “Dad jeans” and cargo pants in a GAP mall store near you. The most relevant thing to happen to GAP in the past year was Odd Future parodying their logo on a sweatshirt that reads “FAP.”

7. Asos

If you have never heard of this brand, then that makes two of us. Apparently it’s a hugely popular British brand that hasn’t yet integrated into U.S. markets. Even though the clothing doesn’t come with an accent, I shamelessly assume that since it is British it must be pretty cool looking stuff.

6. Coach

While Coach is not exactly a luxury brand, it does fill a pretty hardy sized niche: Coach makes designer bags and shoes for middle class women. And no, there is no air of disparagement in that comment. Not everyone can afford the purse that their favorite celebrity was just seen with while eating at Nobu. It’s good that there is a high quality, yet affordable, alternative.

5. Polo

Polo is one of those rare brands that seems to appeal to everyone. From its classic golf shirts — worn by every middle aged father — to salmon colored shorts for the frat star in your life, even to women’s dresses for that warm summer afternoon, it is inevitable that you own something from Ralph Lifshitz’s label. Oh, and don’t forget that Polo also is in charge of Team USA’s Olympic gear, which will actually be produced in the U.S. this time.

4. H&M

Often called a “fast fashion” brand, H&M sells cheaper versions of popular clothes and styles that would cost an arm and a leg if bought from their original designer. Regardless of what your personal opinions are of that tactic, it is undeniable that it has put the Swedish brand on the map. Recent collaborations with luxury brands Maison Martin Margiela and Versace have also garnered a lot of buzz, as these collaborations offered the average fashion-conscious person a chance to buy a piece from an exclusive fashion house. H&M is the favorite brand of young stylish people who are trying to keep up with what the celebrities are wearing, while still eating three meals a day and paying their rent.

3. Adidas

Making athletic clothes and shoes for sporty people all over the world. While they aren’t as expensive as Nike, they also aren’t as sought after. For their sake, hopefully Derrick Rose returns this season in MVP form and they can cash in on their “D. Rose 4” signature sneakers and ad campaign.

2. Zara

I was pretty shocked at how highly ranked Zara was considering the fact that they don’t ever design anything original. Their want-to-be-luxury men’s collection looks like a hodge podge of replica Givenchy, Versace and En Noir. The worst part about it is that unlike H&M which is very reasonably priced, Zara is decently expensive considering its poor quality (they sure love their faux leather). Obviously fast-fashion brands play a large role in today’s clothing market, but it’s a sad day when they try to pass themselves off as luxury and consumers fall for it.

1. Nike

Nike has always had the market for high performance athletic shoes cornered, as they are the preferred sneaker of most of your favorite athletes. However in recent years, with the explosion of “sneakerheads” and collecting sneakers as a hobby, Nike has expanded into the realm of fashion. This can be seen by their recent wild Foamposite colorways and the Lebron 10’s made from cork. It also doesn’t hurt that they have endorsement contracts with the four NBA players with the best selling signature shoes: Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant. Oh, and don’t forget that the G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan’s Jordan Brand is a division of Nike as well. With such a wide selection of sneakers to offer, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Nike is the world’s most searched brand. They also are the most valuable apparel brand on Interbrand’s list of the 100 most valuable brands, behind powerhouses such as General Electric and Coca-Cola by only a few spots.