Fashion History With A Twist: The World's Most Enduring Brands

Forbes

Fashion doesn't have to be fleeting. Some of the most significant brands in the industry have stood the test of time, giving them a credibility that newer brands can't match.

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Burberry Then

Burberry

Back in the Day

Thomas Burberry founded his eponymous brand in 1856 in Hampshire, England, as an outdoor wear brand. The line took off in 1880 when Burberry created gabardine, a waterproof yet breathable fabric perfect for raincoats and London's foggy weather. The famed Burberry trench coat entered the scene in 1914 when the company was commissioned by Britain's "War Office" to redo the classic officer's coat. Following WWI the trench coat caught on with the public as a fashion statement, and it has been an icon of the brand ever since.

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Burberry Today

Today

Burberry launched a ready-to-wear collection in 1998, but it wasn't until the label brought in designer Christopher Bailey in 2001 that the brand began to cement its luxury status. Bailey has continued to play with the label's heritage, including the trench coat, while adding a decidedly cool edge to everything from handbags to gowns. Upping the cool factor recent ad campaigns have featured notable celebrities including model Kate Moss and Harry Potter starlet Emma Watson. Burberry was also one of the first fashion brands to dive into social networking. The brand launched the Art of the Trench viral campaign last year, inviting customers to submit photos of themselves wearing the iconic trench coat.

Click Here To See More Brands That Have Stood the Test of Time

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Hermès Then

Hermès

Back in the Day

Hermès, founded in 1837, was established as an equestrian supply workshop supplying European nobleman with harnesses and bridles for their carriages. In 1880 the company began making saddles, and in 1900 the company introduced its first bag--designed to hold a saddle for travel.

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Hermès Today

Today

Today, Hermès has 14 product divisions including leather, scarves, ties, menswear, women's fashion, perfume, watches and stationery. In addition, the company is now making much more than a saddle bag--it is irrevocably associated with its expensive handbags, particularly the famed Birkin bag. While many associate the Birkin with Hermès' heritage, in reality the bag was created in 1984 for Jane Birkin, who wanted a larger bag for the daytime. The bag, a pop culture icon in its own right, has spawned waitlists, appeared on Sex & the City and is the subject of a book, Bringing Home the Birkin. The bag made waves again when it appeared on Lady Gaga's arm this year "defaced" with Japanese writing.

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Louis Vuitton Then

Louis Vuitton

Back in the Day

Louis Vuitton (the man) began his career in France as a luggage maker apprentice, learning how to make traveling cases for the upper echelons of French society. He started his eponymous label in 1854, introducing flat bottom trunks with trianon canvas, which could be stacked one on top of the other, a novelty at the time. By the later part of the century so many manufacturers had began copying the Louis Vuitton look that the company introduced its now famous monogram canvas pattern, patenting it, to ward off copycats.

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Louis Vuitton Today

Today

Louis Vuitton (the brand) is now best known for its logo bags with a twist. In 2001 Stephen Sprouse, in collaboration with Louis Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs, designed a limited-edition line of Vuitton bags that featured graffiti on top of the monogram. In 2003 Takashi Murakami introduced a multicolored monogram, featuring 33 different colors on a white or black background. Today the brand is turning out basics with an heirloom feel: It recently re-introduced wallets that they had first created 100 years ago, and the hottest bag in the line for fall is a simple grey leather doctor's bag that looks like it could have been ripped from your grandmother's closet.



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Ferragamo Then

Salvatore Ferragamo

Back in the Day

Salvatore Ferragamo's story reads like a fashion fairy tale. Ferragamo, born in Bonito, Italy, began making shoes when he was nine for his sisters to wear to be confirmed in church. After studying shoemaking in Naples, Ferragamo opened a small shoe store in his parent's home before moving to Boston in 1914 to work in a cowboy boot factory. He then moved to Hollywood where he began making custom shoes for stars of the day such as Joan Crawford and Gloria Swanson. He returned to Italy in 1927 and officially started his namesake label. Ferragamo has long been considered a shoe innovator--inventing the wedge heel, shell-shaped sole, the 'invisible' sandal and metal heels. Following his death in 1960, his widow, Wanda, took over the company.

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Ferragamo Today

Today

Ferragamo is known for its years of history and its consumer base that has been shopping the label for decades. To lure in younger shoppers the brand is launching a more affordable line of basic shoes called My Ferragamo and targeting its ads toward younger women. For its recently-released Attimo fragrance, model Dree Hemingway (granddaughter of Ernest) was photographed in bed wearing nothing but red Salvatore Ferragamo heels.



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Persol Then

Persol

Back in the Day

Persol, founded in 1917, originally appealed to pilots and drivers, and was considered a sunglass innovator thanks to the flexible arms on the brand's sunglasses. But they became an iconic must-have after Steve McQueen wore them in 1968's The Thomas Crown Affair. Audrey Hepburn also sported them in Breakfast at Tiffany's and they appeared in the Italian cinema cult classic La Dolce Vita.

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Persol Today

Today

The company remains a cult, "in the know" fashion brand and celebrity favorite. While many sunglasses are covered in logos, Persol has found success offering covert luxury to consumers. In September the brand is re-launching a limited edition pair of Steve McQueen Persols, capitalizing on its place in cinema history.

 

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