Fashion is always evolving, and high-end designer brands come and go.
But amidst the ever-changing trends, some luxury fashion brands stand out, surviving the test of time and still providing beautiful, timeless looks.
They’re true pioneers and masters of their craft. These iconic fashion houses have captivated and delighted us through the centuries, from simple leather bags to dazzling couture.
In today’s article, we’ll look at the oldest luxury brands still in business, and how they’ve stayed around for so long.
Hermès – Since 1837
To start us off is one of the world’s oldest luxury brands, Hermès. Founded in 1837 by Thierry Hermès, the company began as a harness workshop in Paris, producing bridles and saddles. The products were explicitly crafted and tailored for the European upper class of the day.
However, over the centuries, the brand has evolved and expanded its reach, becoming an internationally recognized symbol of luxury and sophistication. According to Interbrand Best Global Brands 2022, Hermès ranks at number 23rd with a brand value of USD 27.4 billion. Today, it’s known for its high-end fashion, leather goods, jewelry, fragrances, home furnishings, and watches.
But it isn’t just exclusivity and craftsmanship that have kept the brand at the forefront of luxury fashion for nearly two centuries. It’s the commitment to preserving its rich heritage and tradition while pushing the boundaries of design and innovation. The brand continues to make its mark from the 1900 Haut a Courroies bag to the signature Kellys and Birkins.
Each of Hermes’ pieces is a work of art, crafted with the utmost attention to detail and quality. A collectible like the Birkin bag takes up to 18 hours to complete and is said to be “the most sought-after item in fashion.” It has a waiting list of up to six years, with celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian, and Lady Gaga owning one.
And with over 300 stores worldwide, you can find this iconic French fashion house in just about any major city. Whether in Milan, Paris, Tokyo, or New York, it’s easy to get your hands on an exquisite Hermès creation.
Cartier – Since 1847
The year is 1847, and the French Revolution is still fresh in the minds of Parisians. But amid political upheaval and social unrest, Louis-Francois Cartier took over his master’s jewelry workshop and established what would become Cartier.
As the years passed, Louis’s reputation as a master jeweler grew. His use of precious metals and stones was unrivaled, and his designs were the epitome of elegance and style. Over time, Cartier evolved from a small workshop to an iconic luxury fashion house.
The 20th century saw his lineage successfully transition the brand from a local French jewelry store to an international powerhouse. King Edward VII of England even dubbed Cartier’s grandson “the jeweler of kings, and the king of jewelers” for using platinum in jewelry.
Today, it remains one of the most sought-after luxury brands in the world. Some of Cartier’s most iconic creations include the Trinity de Cartier bracelet, the Santos de Cartier watch, and the Tank Française. These luxuries have graced the wrists of royals and celebrities such as Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco and Elizabeth Taylor.
Still, it continues to innovate and push boundaries, bringing modern pieces like the Juste un Clou collection, the LOVE series, and the Panthère de Cartier collection. With its trademark “Luxury and Style” slogan, you can find Cartier in over 125 countries and more than 200 stores worldwide. This is the brand for you if you’re looking for timeless elegance.
Omega – Since 1848
When it comes to luxury watches, few brands can rival Omega. Founded in 1848, it was one of the first companies to perfect the art of manufacturing watches. Over the decades, it has become synonymous with reliability and quality.
Omega’s chapter starts in the small Swiss town of La Chaux-de-Fonds, where a young man named Louis Brandt assembled pocket watches from local artisans’ parts. In 1894, his sons introduced a new model: the Omega 19 ligne. It allowed for the interchange of components, resulting in more accurate and dependable watches.
The innovation paid off, and by the early 1900s, Omega had become one of the world’s largest watchmakers, producing approximately 100,000 watches per year. But its success didn’t stop there. The introduction of chronograph caliber allowed the company to become the official timekeeper of the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games, solidifying its place in the luxury watch market.
Since then, the brand has continued to furnish the world with high-quality timepieces, including the famous Speedmaster watch used on the Apollo 11 mission. Other notable models include the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition, worn by Daniel Craig in his role as James Bond, and the Constellation collection, designed for everyday wear.
While the company has undergone several changes over the years, it remains a leader in luxury watchmaking. You can shop Omega watches in over 60 boutiques globally or find them online. For the modern wearer, Omega has something to offer for every style.
Louis Vuitton – Since 1854
Louis Vuitton is the granddaddy of luxury fashion houses. Ask any Gen Z fashionista, and they’ll tell you this brand is as relevant today as it was when it first opened in 1854. Its iconic monogram canvas and signature logo remain staples in the fashion industry.
The label was founded by Louis Vuitton, a young French craftsman who specialized in customizing luggage and trunks. He quickly gained notoriety for his innovative designs that made trunks light yet strong, allowing them to withstand the rigors of travel. But it was not until 17 years later that Louis opened his store at 4 Rue Neuve-des-Capucines in Paris.
Fast forward to the late 1800s, and the brand was already a favorite among European aristocrats. The founder’s son, Georges, expanded its appeal to all classes of society, adding stylish handbags and other leather goods to the range. By the 1970s, Louis Vuitton had become an international symbol of luxury and quality worldwide.
In 1997, Marc Jacobs took over as artistic director, transforming Louis Vuitton into a full-fledged fashion house. He is also credited with the brand’s first jewelry collection and its foray into fragrance. Its most iconic pieces include the Alma Bag, Monogram Speedy, the Capucines, and the Keepall travel bag.
Louis Vuitton is the most valuable fashion brand in the world, worth over $124.3 billion as of 2022. It boasts more than 450 stores worldwide in more than 50 countries, catering to customers from all walks of life. The brand continues to innovate and offer its customers quality fashion goods that will last a lifetime.
Bvlgari – Since 1884
Bvlgari is a luxury jewelry and fashion brand synonymous with elegance and refinement. The company was founded in 1884 by Sotirio Bulgari, a Greek immigrant who came to Rome with a passion for jewelry-making. He opened his first store in the city’s historic center, Sistina 85, and quickly established a reputation for creating exquisite and unique pieces.
As the brand grew, it became known for its bold colors and innovative designs. Its signature style was defined by precious stones set in gold, such as emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. The company also expanded into other luxury goods like watches and perfumes.
In 1966, Sotirio’s grandson Gianni took Bvlgari’s helm and continued expanding its reach. Together with his cousin, they opened stores in major cities worldwide and collaborated with fashion designers and celebrities. During this time, the iconic BVLGARI BVLGARI watch was introduced, quickly becoming a symbol of success.
The 21st century saw the company diversify its product portfolio even further. It acquired Daniel Roth, a Swiss watchmaking brand, and Crova, a jewelry company. In 2004, Bvlgari launched its first luxury hotel in Milan, and today, it operates a collection of hotels globally.
Reports indicate that the brand is among the top, with an estimated USD 19,93 billion value. It is clear that Bvlgari has staying power and shows no signs of slowing down. The combination of its classic Italian design, luxury materials, and excellent craftsmanship make it a timeless fashion favorite.
And with about 300 stores worldwide, it’ll continue to be a fashion industry leader for many years.
Lanvin – Since 1889
Lanvin is another of the world’s most respected and oldest luxury brands, with a century of history. Founded in 1889, it has been at the forefront of fashion, pushing boundaries and creating iconic designs that have stood the test of time.
The story of this brand begins with Jeanne Lanvin, a young woman with a passion for fashion and design. She started her career as a milliner, creating beautiful hats for Parisian women. However, her daughter, Marguerite, truly inspired her to launch her fashion label.
In 1909, Jeanne Lanvin opened her first boutique on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris. The store was an instant success, and soon she created couture garments for some of the most fashionable women in Paris. Her designs were known for their intricate details, such as delicate lace and embroidery, and her use of rich fabrics like silk and velvet.
After Lanvin died in 1946, her daughter Marguerite took over the company and continued to build the brand’s reputation. She shared the management with her cousin Yves Lanvin and other industry experts. Since then, Lanvin has seen several takeovers but has always retained its dedication to high-quality and timeless design.
Today, it features menswear, womenswear, accessories, jewelry, and fragrances. Its most famous pieces include the classic Alber coat, the signature tuxedo dress, and the now-iconic bib necklace. Lanvin has over 400 stores worldwide and is a favorite among celebrities and fashion lovers.
Chanel – Since 1910
Think of luxury fashion, and Chanel will instantly pop into the mind of many. This renowned French company has been at the forefront of fashion since its inception in 1910. Led by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, the brand popularized the concept of “luxury casualwear,” paving the way for a new fashion era.
For example, Coco’s revolutionary little black dress brought a chic simplicity to formalwear and made her a household name. Decades later, her influence is still palpable with its signature quilted handbags, tweed suits, and iconic double-C logo. Every year, people around the globe line up to get their hands on these coveted pieces.
However, beyond garments and accessories, the brand also boasts fragrances that stay true to the sophistication of its aesthetic. Its iconic CHANEL N°5 perfume has become the symbol of luxury, elegance, and grace. It’s the world’s best-selling perfume of all time.
Until his death in 2019, Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld pushed for increased accessibility and sustainability within the company — two ideas that continue to live on today. Some of his work includes the critically-acclaimed Métiers d’Artd’ collections and the “CC ” monogram. In 1983, Karl brought in Ines de La Fressange as the first-ever face of Chanel, revolutionizing the industry.
Currently, the company headquarters is based in London and boast more than 500 boutiques and several unique, limited-edition collections. Chanel remains an iconic brand to this day, inspiring the fashion world with its timeless elegance.
Prada – Since 1913
You’re wrong if you think Prada is a new addition to the luxury fashion landscape. Established in 1913 by brothers Mario and Martino Prada in Milan, Italy, the fashion house started as a leather shop. They were one of the first brands to introduce the concept of ‘luxury ready-to-wear’ in the 1970s, changing how people perceived it.
In the 1980s, Miuccia Prada (Mario’s granddaughter) joined the business and introduced innovative collections that catapulted the brand to its current global recognition. Under her leadership, the company ventured into other categories, such as menswear, eyewear, watches, perfumes, and home accessories.
Prada is still at the forefront of innovation, with its cutting-edge materials, such as neoprene, perforated leather, and technical mesh fabrics, being widely adopted. Additionally, their capsule collections featuring talents like Raf Simons have made them relevant to both old and new customers.
In 2019, the brand collaborated with Adidas to launch a futuristic take on its classic Superstar sneaker. The collection was an instant success, selling out in minutes, and included accessories, ready-to-wear, and bags. And to appeal to the environmentally conscious, it also launched its ‘Re-Nylon’ project, which utilizes recycled nylon.
Prada’s commitment to innovation and sustainability has solidified it as a true luxury fashion powerhouse. With over 300 stores worldwide and a legion of celebrity fans, this is one brand that will continue to last for years to come.
Balenciaga – Since 1919
Balenciaga is a Spanish fashion house founded by Cristobal Balenciaga in 1919. His vision was to create garments that could embody both Spanish tradition and avant-garde design. Throughout its history, the brand has pushed the boundaries of traditional tailoring techniques, introducing several silhouettes which other designers have since adopted.
In 1937, Cristobal left Spain due to the civil war and set up shop in Paris, where he quickly developed a cult following amongst celebrities such as Jackie Kennedy and Ava Gardner. Christian Dior once dubbed him “the master of us all” due to his innovative and trendsetting designs.
Today, under the direction of designer Demna Gvasalia, Balenciaga continues to challenge conventional notions of fashion through its progressive streetwear aesthetic. Its most recognizable items include the Motorcycle Jacket, Hourglass Dress, and Logo Belt Bag- staples in almost any contemporary wardrobe.
Balenciaga further solidified itself as one of the leading brands in the luxury fashion industry when it released limited-edition hoodies and sweatpants designed for Kanye West. The ‘Yeezy Gap Line’ was released in 2020 and went on to sell out within minutes of being available online. The success reaffirmed the company’s strong relationship with high-profile celebrity endorsements, including Rihanna and Kim Kardashian.
The French label has continued to evolve throughout its long-standing history, redefining modern luxury and inspiring generations of aspiring fashionistas. With such timeless designs, signature collections, and continuing success among fashion icons, there’s no doubt that Balenciaga will remain at the forefront of fashion for many years to come.
Gucci – Since 1921
Founded by Italian designer Guccio Gucci in 1921, Gucci has grown from humble beginnings to become one of the leading names in luxury fashion. Guccio’s first shop opened on Via Della Vigna Nuova in Florence. His vision was to create timeless clothing and accessories to be passed down through generations.
From the outset, he focused on craftsmanship and attention to detail. His early products were crafted from delicate fabrics and designed with luxurious details such as fine stitching and gold accents. The original styles were inspired by equestrian clothing and exuded classic elegance.
Since then, the company has undergone several design iterations but still maintains its core values of quality materials, skilled craftsmanship, and sophisticated design. Today, the brand offers various products, including clothing, shoes, watches, bags, and jewelry, making it one of the most sought-after names in fashion.
During Alessandro Michele’s tenure as Creative Director, the brand experienced another resurgence thanks to his unique vision. He embraced non-traditional aesthetics and created gender-neutral collections that embodied a new luxury. Some of his most iconic creations include the Gucci Dionysus handbag and reviving the double-G logo.
It is no surprise that in 2018, the brand overtook Louis Vuitton as the world’s most visited luxury brand. Alongside their high-end clothing lines, they also offer home goods, eyewear, cosmetics, pet apparel, and other lifestyle items to meet customers’ needs. This allows them to remain relevant in a market where trends come and go quickly.
As of 2019, the brand has more than 480 stores worldwide and over 17,000 employees. Gucci’s success story is one of modern-day innovation and dedication to timeless luxury.
Fendi – Since 1925
Founded in 1925 by Edoardo Fendi and Adele, Fendi is one of Italy’s oldest luxury fashion brands still in business. The couple began selling fur pieces to upper-class Roman families before branching into leather goods and ready-to-wear items. They quickly made a name for themselves by creating unique and innovative designs, gaining fans amongst royalty and Hollywood stars.
After Edoardo died in 1946, his five daughters—Paola, Anna, Franca, Carla, and Alda and their mother—took control of the family business. They revolutionized Fendi’s image by hiring Karl Lagerfeld as artistic director in 1965.
Under Karl’s creative direction, the brand experienced significant growth and became one of Europe’s leading haute couture houses. He introduced several new lines and collections, including Fendi’s ready-to-wear, in-line shoes, and the infamous double F logo that has become a symbol of wealth and status across the globe.
In 2012, following Lagerfeld’s retirement from the fashion house, Silvia Venturini Fendi was appointed creative director. She continues to push the boundaries of creativity, quality, and craftsmanship, for which the brand is renowned. Perhaps one of her most notable creations is the Fendi Baguette bag, a luxurious and iconic piece featured in several Hollywood films.
The fashion brand also collaborated with Kim Kardashians’ shapewear line, Skims, and Versace, displaying its versatile side and ability to innovate. Fendi offers high-end designer pieces, such as its Peekaboo bags, and more affordable capsule collections for customers on a budget.
Besides fashion, the company has been involved in several philanthropic initiatives. These include partnerships with institutions like Quattro Fontane for clean-up exercises and reviving the Temple of Venus and Roma. Fendi also joined hands with a non-profit organization, launching unisex T-shirts to raise funds for underprivileged children.
Nina Ricci – Since 1932
To close off our list is the long-standing French luxury brand, Nina Ricci. It was founded by Maria “Nina” Ricci and her son Robert in 1932.
Maria had previously worked as a seamstress before making a name for herself in the fashion industry. With her skillful eye for detail and Robert’s business acumen, the two developed highly successful collections ranging from lingerie to ready-to-wear clothing for women.
But it wasn’t until 1946, when the company launched its first perfumery, Coeur Joie, that its olfactory offerings began to flourish. Then came its undeniably iconic creation, L’Air du Temps, in 1948—a beloved scent still a bestseller today. The fragrance embodies the label’s romantic and timeless aesthetic, proving that age doesn’t always mean being outdated.
Apart from fragrances, Nina Ricci also offers leather goods, eyewear, shoes, and dresses as part of its product line-up. Known for the quality materials used in all their items and Maria’s appreciation for intricate craftsmanship, each piece tells a unique story.
Even after almost nine decades since its launch, the label continues to embody the same principles of elegance and charm as it did during its inception.
Today, it’s a subsidiary of Puig, the Spanish fashion and fragrance company, and has over 100 boutiques across the globe. The label also has three flagship stores in Paris, Madrid, and Dubai, where it usually showcases its classic designs and modern interpretations of fashion. Famous fans of this revered house include Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, Kristen Stewart, and Emma Stone.
Nina Ricci is a true testament to the longevity of luxury fashion. It’s managed to remain relevant throughout the decades without succumbing to the constant changes in fashion trends, which speaks volumes about its impressive designs.
Oldest Luxury Fashion Brands, Closing Thoughts
While some fashion brands come and go, these twelve have endured for centuries. From iconic French houses like Chanel and Hermes to Italian stalwarts such as Gucci, Fendi, and Prada, they’re more than just a name – they’re a testament to timeless style, craftsmanship, and excellence.
And while they may be expensive, they’re worth the investment. So, no matter the era, you’ll always be in fashion!