The History Behind Popular Vinatge Brands


Designer brands have been around for as long as one can remember. But how long exactly? Only the most experienced experts in fashion or the descendants of those who ruled the fashion industry truly know how Prada or Louis Vuitton were first made and founded. From just one beautifully sewn handbag made for royalty, turned into a luxury vintage brand lasting for more than a century, many of the designer brands that we know took the fashion industry by storm, forever altering style in some of the wildest ways, and thanks to the new generations to come, vintage is the new modern.


Louis Vuitton

At only sixteen years old, Louis Vuitton made the decision that would not only alter his own life, but also the lives of his sons and future generations. The history of Louis Vuitton as a creator of trunks dates back to before the founding of his company. In 1837, at the age of sixteen, Louis Vuitton set foot in Paris and began serving as Monsieur Maréchal’s apprentice. The main method of transportation at the period were horse-drawn carriages, ships, and railways, and luggage was treated harshly. Craftsmen were hired by travelers to pack and secure their specific items. At Monsieur Maréchal’s Parisian workshop, Louis Vuitton soon established himself as a respected artisan. Here were the roots of his relatively niche profession. Louis Vuitton stayed for 17 years before officially opening his own workshop, located at 4 Rue Neuve-des-Capucines near the Place Vendome. Louis Vuitton was founded 169 years ago!

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Prada has been around for more than a century. Mario Prada founded the House of Prada in 1913. In the renowned Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II in Milan, the first store officially opened. Travel gear, trunks, steamers, and other leather goods were first offered in this first establishment, which was owned and operated by Mario Prada. The company gained attention in 1919 when it received the prestigious status of Official Supplier of the Italian Royal Family.  Just like that, Prada had a new logo. Prada was founded 110 years ago!

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At the age of 21, Thomas Burberry found Burberry in Basingstoke on the premise that clothes should be made to shield wearers from the British Climate. Burberry invented Gabardine, a breathable and waterproof fabric in which was originally uncomfortable to wear. Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian explorer, is the first known polar explorer, in 1893, to wear Burberry gabardine to the poles whilst in the early 20th century, renowned British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton also donned Burberry gabardine while participating on three trips. In 1914, the first World War witnesses the invention of the Burberry trench coat, the practical design featuring epaulettes for hanging military gear. Burberry was founded 167 years ago!

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Vivienne Westwood

At the age of 17, Westwood enrolled in the Harrow School of Art, now the University of Westminster, to study fashion. Nonetheless, Vivienne Westwood originally chose to teach after graduating, and she did so until 1971. Vivienne Westwood (née Swire) married Derek Westwood, yet their relationship only lasted three years until their divorce, where she kept his last name. Vivienne Westwood then met Malcolm McLaren, permanently altering her life. At the time, Malcolm McLaren was an art student who had always been an activist and took apart in the 1968 student uprisings, and he introduced Westwood to the exploiting of aesthetic, particularly in the field of fashion, as a tool of political protest. Together, with a friend of McLaren’s, Westwood and McLaren opened a store in a poorly lit boutique at 430 Kings Road in London in 1971. Vivienne Westwood was founded 52 years ago!

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Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent, one of the most well-known fashion houses of the 20th century, was founded in 1961. In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent, then a House of Haute Coutre, introduced high-end designed clothing produced on a broader scale than the exclusive collections, revolutionizing the way fashion and society blend and interact. After studying under Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent founded his own fashion house in Paris with business partner Pierre Bergé. It quickly attracted devoted clients because it merges formal ballgowns with the wide-legged pants, peacoats, and more androgynous styles that are becoming more and more fashionable in fashion-forwards circles. Yves Saint Laurent was founded 62 years ago!

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Gabrielle Chanel or Coco, as she had come to be known, debuts Chanel Modes in 1910, a hat boutique at 21 rue Cambon. She gained notoriety by having her hats worn by prominent French actresses of the day. At Deauville, Gabrielle Chanel launches her first store. She starts selling a line of sportswear made of jersey, a fabric formerly used to create men’s underwear, starting in 1913. Fashion and women’s perceptions of their bodies were both transformed by this strategy. Instant success followed. Coco Chanel establishes her first couture house in Biarritz, France, inspired by her success. There, she hires 300 people and creates her debut Haute Couture line. Following her stores openings, Chanel launches its first perfume N°5 born out of a collaboration with perfumer Ernest Beaux. Chanel was founded 113 years ago!

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The Dior brand claims that 1947 was its founding year despite the fashion houses first collection debuting that year, even though it was actually founded in 1946. The company was founded by Christian Dior in Paris at 30 Avenue Montaigne. Less than three months passed between the brand’s founding and the debut of its inaugural collection on February 12, 1947. Before entering the fashion industry, Dior, who has a strong passion for art, owned an art gallery in France. He worked for couturier Lucien Lelong and fashion designer Robert Piguet after closing his gallery during the Great Depression. Yet, Dior was eager for his own work to be appreciated, which inspired him to create his own fashion house in 1946, giving rise to Christian Dior. Dior was founded 67 years ago!

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Similar to its Italian predecessors, Gucci started out as a quiet, opulent equestrian and leather good company. Now, however, it is one of the most innovative and fascinating fashion firms around. In fact, the brands reputation and aesthetic are so strong that everything from its red and green motif, “GG” emblem, and diamond print fabric are instantly recognizable. In 1921, Guccio Gucci launches his own leather goods shop on Via Vigna Nuova in Florence after spending years honing his craft at storied Italian luggage firms. Fine saddles and equestrian accessories made up a substantial portion of his early business, and these themes continue to be recurring themes in Gucci Collections today. Gucci was founded 102 years ago!

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