High fashion – more eloquently known as haute couture – is the creation of exclusive clothing made from exceptionally high quality fabric and sewn with expert finesse by trained hands.

Luxury fashion houses design, create and market high fashion clothing and accessories which are trend-setting, limited in quantity and extremely expensive to purchase.

For labels to be classified as a high fashion brand, the designer must show their collection at one of the world’s four annual major fashion weeks in Paris, Milan, London or New York.

Many of the world’s top designer brands are based in Europe, most notably across France, Italy and the UK, and despite global economic uncertainty the luxury fashion sector continues to grow faster than many other industries.

Because of this, major business publications such as CNBC, Forbes and Business Insiderrun a yearly financial analysis of the best performing brands on earth to determine what fashion house fares best in the sartorial sales stakes.

New Idea brings you a list of the world’s most famous fashion brands – and what you need to know about each before you invest.

1. Chanel

Chanel S.A. is a French luxury fashion house specialising in haute couture and ready-to-wear clothing, handbags, sunglasses, footwear, cosmetics, fragrance, jewellery, belts and small leather goods.

Chanel was founded Paris in 1909 as “House of Chanel” by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, a former singer and fashion designer.

Coco Chanel made elegant, minimalistic clothes for women which grew in popularity as ladies moved away from the excessive, maximalist designs of the 19th century.

2. Gucci

Gucci is an Italian luxury fashion brand founded by Guccio Gucci in Tuscany in 1921.

The house went on to become Italy’s top selling label and has enjoyed a recent revival to become the world’s most sought after millennial brand under the creative direction and fresh digital marketing strategy of Alessandro Michele who has headed up design since 2015.

During WWII, Gucci created handbags made of cotton canvas as opposed to traditional leather due to fabric shortages, and distinguished his creations with a double G monogram decorated with red and green bands.

3. Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton Malletier – Louis Vuitton – is an esteemed French fashion house founded Paris in 1854 by creative designer Louis Vuitton.

One of the world’s leading maisons, the brand is famous for its trademark LV monogram which appears on almost all of its products, particularly handbags for which the house is best known.

Louis Vuitton create a vast array of lavish goods including luxury luggage, ready-to-wear clothing for women and men, bags, belts, small leather goods, jewellery, sunglasses, shoes and stationery.

4. Hermes

Hermes International S.A. is a French high fashion luxury manufacturer with a history spanning centuries.

Founded as an equestrian accessories workshop in 1837 by Thierry Hermes, a German-French carriage maker, the company transitioned to a budding fashion house in 1918 when it created the first leather golf jacket with a zipper, custom made for Edward, Prince of Wales.

Hermes is best known for its handbags, but the brand began manufacturing them by somewhat of an accident when the director’s wife complained about not finding any bags to her liking.

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