Depending on what kind of a shopper you are, you are either excited or overwhelmed by the increasing number of designers, brands, and retailers in the fashion space today. From online to brick and mortar stores, you see new designs, color combinations, interesting cuts, and themed patterns. And honestly, it can sometimes be confusing most especially if you haven’t figured out your style yet, you’re still experimenting, or you’re simply in the store for a quick closet update.
To help you figure your way out of the puzzling world of American fashion designer industry, we rounded up the 27 homegrown brands you not only need to know about, but also, buy your future clothes and accessories from. Each has its own distinct characteristics that earn itself a spot in every shoppers’ wardrobe.
A staple on the red carpet, Marchesa was established in 2004 with the combination of its two British-born founders’ unique background and experiences: Georgina Chapman’s print and embroidery, and Keren Craig’s draping and design. The result? Beautiful, iconic, eye-catching high-fashion creations that highlight Asian (mostly Indian) and vintage influences through intricate embroideries, beadwork, and artistry. If you’re not looking for an evening wear but still want to own a Marchesa, you must check out its handbag line, dinnerware (collaborated with Lenox), and cosmetics line (collaborated with Le Métier de Beauté)—all of which have the signature Marchesa look and feel.
Have you ever looked at a fashion item and instantly caught a glimpse of a special past, a particular place, or even a playful dream? If you’re looking for a luxury brand that is the epitome of what California is, then you can’t miss Rodarte. A quick look at the brand’s pieces and you are immediately teleported to the state’s laidback and spirited vibe. Founded in 2005 by Kate and Laura Mulleavy in Los Angeles, Rodarte mixes high-couture, wistful cuts and colors, flowy multi-layered garments, and modern femininity that are easy on the eyes and comfortable on the skin.
Are you in the market for striking and powerful pieces for everyday wear and special occasions? Look no further because Zac Posen knows what exactly you want. Marrying strong, feminine aesthetic with tailored artistry, the brand offers ready-to-wear creations that women of all ages can don for a variety of purposes. From celebrities to professionals, from glamorous red carpets to structured offices, Zac Posen has excellently been crafting innovative and luxurious pieces using eye-catching drapes and sensual silhouettes since 2001.
Known for its avante garde collections that playfully challenge high-luxe urban wear, Rick Owens is your go-to for your grunge aesthetic clothing needs. Founded in 1994, Rick Owens first operated a store in Hollywood Boulevard before eventually moving to Paris and setting up an atelier in the City of Lights. The brand is iconic in its creative use of leather, revolutionary cuts, and distinct runway ambiance. Aside from clothing, Rick Owens has collaborated with footwear brands Birkenstock and Adidas.
When asked which brand is a dream to wear on your wedding day, you’d probably consider Vera Wang, if it is not your top choice already. Founded in 1990, Vera Wang stapled its name in the bridal industry offering women innovative wedding dresses formed with sophisticated detailing and modern femininity. If wedding dresses are not what you are looking for, then the brand is also iconic for its ready-to-wear couture fashion which was launched in 2000. Today, you can find Vera Wang in spaces other than fashion such as in publishing, home, fragrance, and beauty.
A brand synonymous with a signature design of fairytale-like wedding dresses, Monique Lhuillier, the brand, was created in 1996 by its namesake, a French-born Filipino-American. Creating high-couture ready-to-wear bridal collections that are loved and coveted by many women, the brand uses contemporary cuts and chic imaginations that speak to the modern woman. Because of its distinct style, Monique Lhuillier forayed into other products including shoes, homeware, bags, fine jewelry, and stationery. One of the brand’s recent collaborations is with Pottery Barn Kids, producing a line of home furnishings for babies and children.
Satisfying your craving for fun, culture-inspired clothing, Anna Sui is your best friend when it comes to bohemian and retro pieces like no other. You definitely can’t miss Anna Sui as you build up or reinvent your wardrobe because every single piece that comes out of this luxury brand is an effort to push the fashion industry to the next level. Popularly known for its imaginative, colorful, and dynamic creations, Anna Sui, founded in 1991, is an inspiration for many as it encourages people to express themselves regardless of how they want it to be.
One of the most recognizable lifestyle brands today, Tory Burch started as a small shop on Elizabeth Street in Manhattan and quickly grew into a global brand, thanks to its unique approach to mixing bohemian with classic aesthetic. Known for its fresh and approachable handbags, Tory Burch also creates ready-to-wear, shoes, fragrance, homeware, and accessories. If you’re searching the market for easy and flexible pieces to put a more oomph to your closet, then Tory Burch surely has it all for you.
What is that one brand that brought the bright colors such as pink and purple into the spotlight? Betsey Johnson. As you foray into the world of luxury fashion, you might be surprised that among the sea of muted colors and clean cuts, you have Betsey Johnson that dances with whimsical and exuberant embellishments and femininity. Created by the brand’s namesake, it was founded in 1978 and a mark of it’s long-lasting place in the industry is Betsy Johnson’s drive of setting its own rules. From apparel and swimwear, to fragrances and time pieces, the brand is a bright and loud contrast against the rest—and you surely won’t miss that.
Impeccable designs that effortlessly combine sophistication and sass, you are not going to be disappointed with Tom Ford creations if you are looking to exude subtle attitude through your clothes. Born in 2005, wearing a Tom Ford means being on the same fashion wavelength as Beyoncé, Anne Hathaway, Gwyneth Paltrow, Johnny Depp, Michelle Obama, and so much more. Excelling in womenswear, menswear, and accessories, Tom Ford brings sophisticated sexy to the industry and into your everyday life.
Going to shop for your man? Or if you’re a man yourself, are you looking to elevate your outfits? Let John Varvatos help you with that. Inspired by the music and spirit of rock ‘n roll, the brand marvelously combines the techniques and memories of the past with innovations of modern-day tailoring. From daily clothes to formal wear, John Varvatos, launched in 2000, makes dressing up a breeze for men as it offers wearable but well-crafted and strategic designs that are easy on the eyes and can be flawlessly designed with minimal effort.
A popular answer to the question, “What are you wearing?” Mark Badgley and James Mischka continue to attract praise and attention through their fashion luxury brand, Badgley Mischka since its inception in 1988. Widely known for its sensual and chic evening wears, the brand ensures that everyone, from political personalities to Hollywood stars, who wears a Badgley Mischka creation looks and feels nothing but the best. Did you know that the founders were included in Vogue’s “Top 10 American Designers”? Yes, this brand is not something to miss out on.
If you haven’t heard or seen the brand DKNY, you can’t blame if people ask you if you’ve been living under a rock. Donna Karan, the woman behind the brand, as well as the Donna Karan New York label has been in the business since 1984, after the launch of her first collection. If there’s a brand that encapsulates the state of California, then Donna Karan represents New York. Combing high-precision tailoring with elusive patterns and elegant silhouettes that celebrate New York’s unassuming but influential character, Donna Karan is your best bet when it comes to ready-to-wear, footwear, and accessories that last beyond recent trends and adapt to future ones.
Creating its own kind of sexy, Carolina Herrera pieces are mostly structured with an added element of softness that effortlessly reflect what modern femininity is. If you’re the type who shy away from body-fitting dresses and are attracted to flowy, almost princess-like cut then you are going to feel like royalty in a Carolina Herrera. Started in 1981, the luxury brand has always been on top of people’s mind when it comes to refined, timeless, and elegant evening wear. Aside from women dresses, the brand creates accessories and clothes for men and women, as well as fragrances and bridal pieces.
OSCAR DE LA RENTA
Embellished, bold, and pushing boundaries, seeing an Oscar De La Renta instantly stirs feelings of awe and admiration. A brainchild of its creative and influential Dominican-American fashion designer and namesake, the luxury brand globally known for its unique and gorgeously detailed women’s ready to wear was created in 1965 to conquer the fashion world by storm up to the present time. Today, Oscar De La Renta can also be seen in the spaces of accessories, bridal, children’s wear, beauty, and home products. If you’re not familiar with this luxury brand, then this is the perfect time to explore the rich and beautiful world of Oscar De La Renta.
A different kind of elegance and sex appeal are delivered by the luxury brand The Row. Founded by the Olsen twins, Mary Kate and Ashley, in 2007, missing out on this brand definitely means missing out on a whole new different world of loose clothing cut and done to perfection. As a woman, you are often taught to accentuate your waist because it is one of the physical features that make you feminine, but The Row challenges that. From minimalist colors powered by drapes and relaxed overall fit, the luxury brand is an iconic addition to your closet that you can effortlessly put on and style whenever and wherever.
Famous for dressing Michelle Obama on many occasions, including the first and second inauguration of President Barack Obama, Jason Wu has its own signature flavor of feminine aesthetic that is evident in the way the brand interprets glamour. Mixing sports elements with a global perspective, Jason Wu creations deliver excellent couture-quality artistry and timeless creativity. Founded in 2007, Jason Wu also has ventures in handbags and shoes, which were launched four years after.
3.1 Phillip Lim
Challenging the lack for a brand that marries high-end craftsmanship with a more accessible price tag, 3.1 Phillip Lim successfully filled the gap with modified classics that offer a tinge of madness. Looking at the label’s collections, one immediately notices the subtle adjustments and variations made to traditional clothing, resulting in a more youthful vibe. Describing his brand which was created in 2005, 3.1 according to Phillip Lim “is about clothes that refine instead of define.”
Stocking up on basics to jumpstart your journey to minimalism? Or simply wanting to explore pieces that survive fast and fleeting trends to get the bang for your buck? Helmut Lang is the solution. Initially established in 1986 by its Austrian namesake, the brand relaunched in 2015 with a completely new concept that still follows its historical affinity to deconstructed designs and simple but refined creations. If Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Gisele Bundchen, Halle Berry, and many celebrities have been seen wearing the brand, then Helmut Lang might just be a brand you don’t want to miss.
A result of the duo designers’, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, senior thesis at the Parsons School of Design, the first collection of the New York based womenswear and accessories label Proenza Schouler was born in 2002. Iconic for its bold use of neon colors, geometric lines, and playful fabrics, Proenza Schouler executes what modern art and youth culture is. If today is the moment you are looking into investing in eye-catching pieces that look like works of art, then Proenza Schouler is the right fit for you.
Everyday is an opportunity to showcase your style, and if you are planning to channel your inner Parisian chic, then any Catherine Malandrino store is the place to be. Founded by French fashion designer Catherine Malandrino, the brand continuously hold its own space in the dynamic world of fashion by reaching to its romantic French roots and combining it with novel New York energy and inspirations. The brand has been worn by famous personalities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Demi Moore and Kristen Stewart, among others.
Pretty sure Kate Spade is one of the brands everyone grew up seeing everywhere. Popularly known for its timeless handbags, Kate Spade was created by its namesake in 1993 launching its first handbag collection, following through with glasses, jewelries, small accessories, home, and fragrance collections. A tried and tested brand, Kate Spade is a go-to for sleek and robust pieces that work for you on when you are in your day outfits and as you transform into your night looks.
DIANE VON FURSTENBERG
The pioneer of the signature wrap dresses, the brand Diane Von Furstenberg has become a symbol of power and independence that connect women from all over the world. Great for daily wear and evening occasions, the brand also known as DVF, makes use of colored prints, outstanding patterns, and attention-grabbing forms that encourage women to be bold and confident in expressing themselves through its clothes and accessories.
You probably have a Michael Kors of your own, or your mother passed down a bag or two to you. Known for its long-lasting bag creations that stand the test of time, Michael Kors knows exactly what make women from different generations tick. Regardless of your style, the brand surely has something for you as it upholds an innate principle of glamour paired with endurance across time. From its inception in 1981, Michael Kors now carries, on top of its widely popular and acclaimed handbags, footwear, watches, accessories, jewelry, men and women ready-to-wear, fragrance, and eyewear.
Known for its signature lively and inventive collections, Marc Jacobs is loved by many from high-fashion enthusiasts to mass market lovers of designer brands, thanks to its conscious effort to bring luxurious artistry and quality to more people. Founded in 1984, Marc Jacobs is your go-to source for clothes you didn’t think you need because every piece that the brand creates speaks to a unique kind of femininity based on wearable vibrancy and dynamism—that doesn’t sound like a brand you should miss.
Perhaps from when you were a kid until your adulthood, Ralph Lauren is a staple to your closet most especially its iconic polo shirt. Almost synonymous with American lifestyle, the brand is as contemporary and fashion-forward as it was since its birth in 1967. A regular on online and print media and worn by personalities such as Blake Lively, Jessica Alba, Bar Rafaeli, and many more, Ralph Lauren today is a global, complete lifestyle brand championing sophistication, quality, and luxury that obviously resonate with people around the world.
Known for its modest but seductive aesthetic, Calvin Klein is the brand that you simply couldn’t miss. From its popular underwear and minimalist clothes, to its brilliant fragrances and well-crafted accessories, Calvin Klein is that brand that when you hear about, you instantly form visions of an authentic approach to design and individuality. Created in 1968, Calvin Klein is definitely one of the reputed leaders in the industry, having been present and glamorously persisting for nearly 50 years.
As a modern shopper, it is easy to get lost among the many choices you are presented today. Through this list, we have laid down the groundwork for you as you invest in new pieces and/or continue to develop and polish your knowledge about the American fashion industry. While it is exciting to explore the many other brands in the market, the 27 fashion designer brands that we gathered here are proven to deliver both style and functionality that perfectly resonate with who you are and who you want to be.
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