10 Oldest French fashion brands
Along with London, New York and Milan, Paris is, and has been for centuries, one of the leading centres for design and style, and France has been the home of many of the best known fashion designers in the world. The French have led the way in fashion since about the 15th century and French style has been the envy of the world ever since. Today, Fashion is a major part of the French economy and French fashion brands have outlets all around the world. Here are ten of the best known and the oldest French fashion brands that are still in business today.
Shirt maker and tailor, Charvet, sell ready-to-wear and bespoke blouses, suits, and shirts of the highest quality and is renowned internationally for quality and high levels of service. The brand was founded in 1838 by Joseph-Christophe Charvet, whose father had been “curator of the wardrobe” for Napoleon Bonaparte. The brand began life as a shirt shop in Paris; the first ever shirt shop in the world.
Today, Hermes supplies ready-to-wear clothing, perfumes and accessories, but, like a few major international fashion brands, it started out in 1837 as a leather goods business. The silk scarves, which Hermes is now so famous for, were first introduced by the brand in 1937 and have been seen worn by many people including celebrities and royalties.
Lactose was founded by tennis player René Lacoste in 1933 and its famous crocodile logo came about because Lacoste was such a tenacious tennis player, his fans nicknamed him “the Crocodile”. The first items produced by Lacoste were the famous tennis shirts that the founder of the company wore on court and that was later followed by golf and sailing shirts. Today, Lacoste sell a full range of goods including watches, perfume and, of course, polo shirts.
4. Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton, often known as “LV”, was founded in 1854 when Vuitton started selling his lightweight, airtight, trunks. One of the things that made his trunks so unusual at the time was that they had flat tops, which meant that they could be stacked on top of each other. Louis Vuitton is now a global brand and sells over $9 billion of products every year and has nearly 500 stores worldwide.
Lavin was founded in 1889 by Jeanne Lanvin. The brand began when the clothes that Lanvin made for her daughters caught the eye of a number of wealthy mothers who asked Lanvin to make similar dresses for their own children and soon, Lanvin became dressmaker to the rich and famous of the time. The brand is now a multinational concern selling luxury men’s and women’s clothing, perfumes, and accessories.
The House of Chanel was founded in 1909, when Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel opened her first hat shop in Paris. Well-known for the little black dress and Chanel No 5, Chanel first came to prominence making clothes and accessories that were elegant, but simple in design. Chanel is credited with revolutionising fashion by moving away from the structured silhouette that was popular at the time, to more functional garments that were still flattering to a woman’s figure.
7. Petit Bateau
The French fashion brand, Petit Bateau, which is now best known as a supplier of children’s clothing was founded in 1920, but its origins go all the way back to 1893 and the invention of underpants. The founder of Petit Bateau, Pierre Valton, was a hosier and he was the first person to cut the bottoms off long-johns to create the very first early versions of the modern underpants.
The house of Geivenchy was founded by Hubert de Givenchy in 1952. Givenchy was the first top end fashion designer in the world to create a luxury ready-to-wear clothing range and he was also the inventor of the shirt dress and the sack dress. Today, Givenchy, whose most famous ambassador was Audrey Hepburn, is one of the largest luxury fashion houses in the world.
The ready-to-wear luxury brand of Céline was founded in 1945 by Céline Vipiana and her husband Richard. They began in business together, making and selling made-to-measure children’s shoes. In 1960, the brand was re-positioned, and they began to sell sportswear influenced by ready-to-wear clothes for women.
Dior was founded in 1946 as a private fashion house and began life as little more than a vanity project for its wealthy backer Marcel Boussac. Christian Dior’s first line of clothing, presented in 1947, gained the name ‘The New Look’ and caused quite a stir because of its extravagant use of fabrics in the austere years after the Second World War. Today, Dior makes annual sales that amount to billions of dollars and it is one of the best known luxury brands in the world.