With 2012 nearing a close, WWD released its top 10 most-recognized designer brands list, with American designers Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ralph Lauren snagging the top three spots.
What propels a brand to be “most recognized?” Historical presence, advertising, and even controversy have proven to influence a brand’s recognition (of course, a certain creative director with a kitten and a track record of famously wacky quotes could be a factor).
Lastly—and most obviously—the clothes do their part in raising a brand’s awareness and solidifying a particular aesthetic. To find out what brand’s scored a spot on the list, and more importantly, why, click through our slideshow of the 10 most-recognized designer brands of 2012.
1. Calvin Klein: Taking the top spot, Calvin Klein isn't only an integral part of America's fashion heritage, but its available on three retail tiers, making the brand accessible.
Calvin's advertisements—most of which have been infamously racy and controversial (i.e. the Brooke Shields' campaign, Kate Moss' heroin chic, etc).
Calvin Klein Spring/Summer 2013
2. Tommy Hilfiger: Another Americana brand whose preppy aesthetic, heritage, and trademark logo all contribute to its popularity. Coming off of a recent sponsorship deal with the Golf Club at Chelsea Piers, Hilfiger's advertisements will appear in the sports arena, furthering their recognition and reach in New York.
Tommy Hilfiger Spring/Summer 2013
3. Ralph Lauren: Yet another American label snagging one of the top three spots, Ralph Lauren has managed to become not just a brand of clothing but a lifestyle, which essentially defines American luxury. The label also delves into the sports arena—specifically with tennis and golf apparel, though this year's controversial "made in China" Olympics uniform fiasco was heard 'round the world. However, press is press and clearly only heightened brand awareness.
Ralph Lauren Spring/Summer 2013
4. Gucci: One of the better-known luxury labels on the market, Gucci's distinct logo (and the bags it appears on) likely play a big part in its recognition. The fashion house also tapped the daughter of Princess Caroline of Monaco, Charlotte Casiraghi, as an ambassador for the brand; and cashed in on dressing Florence Welch for her U.S. and European tour.
Gucci Spring/Summer 2013
5. Vera Wang: If you don't know Vera Wang for its ready-to-wear collections, you know the brand for it's bridal collections. Vera Wang wedding dresses are a celeb favorite; Khloe Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Chelsea Clinton, and more have walked down the isle in Wang's creations. Not to mention, Simply Vera Vera Wang at Kohl's has been a huge success.
Vera Wang Spring/Summer 2013
6. DKNY: The sportswear brand has experienced a major expansion this past year, adding 48 full-price stores around the world. The brand also has a very strong digital media presence.
DKNY Spring/Summer 2013
7. Louis Vuitton: With Marc Jacobs behind the helm of this historical luxury brand, Louis Vuitton continues to see success due to it's compelling collections and over the top runway shows. The signature Louis Vuitton bag is without a doubt one of the most recognizable and coveted bags to date.
Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2013
8. Chanel: With founder Coco Chanel being a definitive style icon, and current creative director Karl Lagerfeld regularly making headlines, it's no wonder the brand made the top 10. The Chanel 2.55 bag is an icon unto itself, and the newest edition to the Chanel family—the absurdly fascinating hula-hoop bag—caused a huge stir in 2012.
Chanel Spring/Summer 2013
9. Dolce & Gabbana: Dolce & Gabbana's diffusion line, D&G, was recently absorbed into the house's signature brand making way for further expansion. The Italian house took a brief hit in2012 for allegedly racist earrings in its Spring/Summer 2013 collection, but again, press is press.
Dolce & Gabbana Spring/Summer 2013
10. Giorgio Armani: A surefire way to gain brand recognition? Dress Lady Gaga, of course. The classic designer this year launched an exhibition called "Eccentrico" that featured a collection of his clothes, some of which were worn by Gaga.
Giorgio Armani Spring/Summer 2013