The word fashion is defined as "a popular trend", but, in reality, is it so much more than that. While fashion is about current styles and how we present ourselves to the world, fashion also has the power to impact our behavior, moods, attitudes, and personalities. What we wear is a reflection of social, political, economic, and cultural influences and has a long history of impactful brands, iconic designers, and memorable trends. Do you know the historical significance of the clothing you choose to wear on a daily basis? Here is a list of 10 iconic brands that have made a huge impact on the history of fashion.
Christian Dior's impact on women's fashion has yet to be fully realized. After the Second World War, Dior diverted from the straight-skirted styles of the time and gave rebirth to haute couture. His flowing circle skirts brought femininity back into women's fashion, transforming contemporary women's fashion. Dior's assistant, Yves Saint Laurent, continued his iconic legacy, followed by Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, and more.
Coco Chanel's career as a fashion designer began in 1910 in Paris. Her first shop carried her collection of pleated skirts and jersey dresses, which proved to be wildly successful. Just five years later, she opened her couture house in Biarritz, France. Her revolutionary designs put women first and are reflected in nearly everything women wear today. From jersey t-shirts to little black dresses, Chanel has left her fingerprint on every last corner of the fashion world.
3. Russell Athletic
While wearing a sweatshirt may seem like second nature to most people, there is actually a rich history behind this daily essential. Benjamin Russell founded the company in 1902 in a tiny factory with just 10 sewing machines. In the 1920s, Russell's son, Benny, revolutionized comfort by replacing the itchy wool football jerseys of the time with soft knitted, durable cotton jersey, and invented the very first iconic sweatshirt. It wasn't long before other companies began to mimic the design, and even add a hood and pockets to what we know today as the hooded sweatshirt, or "hoodie." Today, Russell Athletic still proudly creates vintage hoodies, tanks, and throwback tees in honor of their rich history and heritage.
The Gap was founded in 1969 by Don Fischer, a man who struggled to find jeans in his size. This popular store was established with a mission to offer jeans in all sizes, colors, and styles in one convenient location. At the time, department stores were the primary clothing retailer and The Gap revolutionized the shopping world with their business model of affordable clothing, broad selection, and single focus.
5. L.L. Bean
This iconic brand began in 1912 when founder Leon Leonwood Bean struggled to find a boot that suited his lifestyle. After spending a hunting trip in Maine wearing a pair of stiff boots, he desired something that was both comfortable and waterproof. After inventing the popular Maine Hunting Shoe, L.L. Bean went on to design many other products such as their classic tote bags and warm winter sheets.
Schott was the first company to create a leather jacket with a zipper closure instead of the standard buttons. Their famous Perfecto jacket, the world's first motorcycle jacket, was introduced in 1928 and was worn by figures like James Dean and Bruce Springsteen. This original style is still available today and continues to be the inspiration for not just leather jacket brands worldwide, but also for the fashion industry as a whole.
7. Cole Haan
Another brand founded in 1928, Cole Haan was founded in Chicago by Trafton Cole and Eddie Haan. Cole Haan is known for their style and comfort, and as they were the first to create a shoe with a dress shoe upper and athletic sole. With a legacy of quality, long-lasting footwear, Cole Haan has since expanded into other realms of the fashion world such as luggage and outerwear.
8. Original Penguin
The infamous penguin logo was born out of competition with Lacoste. While the exact roots of this popular breast pocket adornment are unconfirmed, rumor has it that a salesman came up with the idea after getting drunk in an airport and purchasing a taxidermy penguin. Regardless of the origins, the penguin logo has stood the test of time and can still be found worn around the world today.
After an afternoon spent surfing on the California coast, Ugg founder, Brian Smith, came up with the idea for this line of signature sheepskin lined slippers. Inspired by designs originally worn by Australians in the 1960s, these comfortable and warm boots were an instant hit with the surfing community and even caught Oprah's attention in 2003.
Patagonia is a pioneer of the sustainable fashion movement. This brand was founded in 1973 on the premise that it would not cause unnecessary damage to the environment. Patagonia's fleece jacket, made with 80% recycled fleece, is Fair Trade confirmed and an outdoor wardrobe staple. The company donates regularly to conservation efforts, and no doubt has had a massive impact on both modern outdoor fashion and environmental protection.