Origins of luxury fashion

The history of luxury fashion is similar to that of branding in terms of development from ancient to modern times. Fashion's history has, however, been written about extensively by those more qualified than myself to do so; therefore its repetition is not the purpose of this chapter. However, there are key periods, events and circumstances that led to the evolution of modern luxury branding, which are worth recounting. For example, events following the industrial revolution brought about mass production techniques and led the way for the current pret-a-porter fashion. Also, the dissolution of the world's monarchies, aristocracy and social class systems brought a change in luxury fashion, notably after the First World War. These factors show an important link between fashion and mankind's history and social evolution.

Fashion is a symbol of society and has continuously been influenced by historical, social, traditional, religious, political, economic, psychological and more recently technological changes. The luxury industry has also witnessed these aspects of evolution and like fine sculpture, the old luxury brands have become modified and enhanced with age; and the new brands have become highly appealing with the aid of effective modern techniques. Several of today's largest and most valuable luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Guerlain and Gucci originated in France and Italy in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and therefore have a long history. These brands and their countries of origin have played a key role in the development of the global fashion industry. The twentieth century also produced several American brands like Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan; as well as Far Eastern brands like Yoji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake. In addition, other respectable global luxury brands such as Burberry of Britain have a strong historical legacy surrounding their creation.

A look at the very beginnings of luxury fashion will provide some direction to the analysis and understanding of the current luxury fashion scene.

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