What's the Price of a Designer Label?
8th November 2022
Instantly recognisable and highly sought after, people are willing to spend a premium to get their hands on products from their favourite designer brands.
Behind the brand, we know that each item serves the same purpose whether that’s to protect your feet from the outside world or shade your eyes from the sun. Clearly, certain designer labels have been successful in establishing a brand that commands a super-premium price on any given item. But exactly how much are each of these designer labels really worth?
To find out, we compared the price of a similar non-branded product against its branded equivalent across ten different categories. We took into account the materials and whether they were made with the same level of care. We then looked at the overall brand premiums across the category, calculating the total price of each item from the same designer label to its miscellaneous counterpart, subtracted these two sums and then divided it by the miscellaneous figure to get the average percentage increase.
To find the overall brand premiums for both the men’s and women’s categories, we added the total brand premium percentages from each category and divided that by two, giving us the overall total.
We identified the top ten biggest designer brands as being Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Versace, Dior, Balenciaga, Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry, Hermes and Prada.
A History of Branding
The brands and marketing techniques that we know now are a fairly new concept, but the history of branding as a whole goes back centuries - to a time before the brands we know now were an established concept.
Nowadays, the luxury product industry is worth around £180 billion, with our favourite labels rooted deep in the history of fashion. Some were established all the way back in the 1800s, and many have paved the way for clothing and luxury goods - revolutionising how we perceive fashion and couture as a whole.
When buying a luxury product, you are relying on years (and in some cases, centuries) of expert craftsmanship, not to mention the exclusivity of knowing you have an item that is incredibly limited in numbers. Luxury is a synonym for quality, and the time taken to design, source, and create these products is reflected in the high-end price. By showing off their unique designs and utilising excellent marketing techniques, they’re able to continue to stay close to consumers' hearts, ensuring quality and luxury you can trust.
After looking into the data surrounding the top ten luxury brands, their products, and the overall quality and craftsmanship, what did we find? Which brands and categories saw the highest or lowest mark-ups over their non-branded counterparts? Here are our findings.
Overall Women’s & Men’s Brand Premium
Founded in 1973, French brand Hermes has topped our list as the brand with the highest brand premiums across both men’s and women's categories. Originally a harness workshop in Paris, providing saddles, bridles and other riding gear, the brand quickly transformed itself into one of the most sought-after labels in the world. We found Hermes had an average brand premium of 781.43% when compared to its non-branded counterparts, and with most items requiring customers to be on a waiting list before purchase, this brand really is the definition of exclusivity.
Meanwhile, the newer Italian brand, Armani (founded in 1975), has some of the lowest price mark-ups at an average of 215.52% over non-branded categories.
Overall Women’s Brand Premium
When looking more closely at the womenswear category as a whole, it might come as a surprise to find that Dior holds the spot for the highest overall price mark-ups at around 709.52%. Dior’s appeal to women could come from its first female creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, whose collections have produced many notable pieces with a clear focus on femininity. Armani was the lowest overall with a 265.75% brand premium over its non-branded equivalents.
Overall Men’s Brand Premium
Looking at the menswear in finer detail, Hermes were, again, in first place for the highest brand premiums, averaging out at just over the 900% mark-up price. Most of this comes from their bags which are just as popular as their women’s bags. We know that Hermes has roots in leather work which makes their creations sturdy, long-lasting, and timeless but did you know that some of their most iconic designs were originally created to help feed horses and carry saddles before being turned into bags for both men and women? Italian brand, Armani, was also the lowest for menswear with an average brand premium of 165.29% across their menswear ranges.
It appears that Louis Vuitton’s Creative Director, Nicholas Ghesquierer, has managed to create a range of women’s knitted jumpers that commands the highest brand premium - over 1,000% infact. The jumper we analysed retails at £1,460 and is predominantly made from wool so will keep you warm and cosy during the winter.
Interestingly, however, it wasn’t Louis Vuitton that came out on top for the men’s knitted jumpers. Instead, Dior saw the highest brand premium at around 900%. This particular jumper we analysed retails for £1,250 and will keep you toasty as it’s made from pure wool. Once again, Armani is the brand with the lowest brand premium for both men’s and women’s knitted jumpers.
When it comes to timeless wardrobe staples, the trench coat is a classic must-have. We looked at a range of different trench coats across different luxury brands and found that in the womenswear department, the super sumptuous trench coat from Dior came out on top with a 1,218% brand premium. The dark blue, double-sided, 99% wool coat (the other 1% is silk) is the perfect option for cold winter days as the thick fabric will keep you cosy all day.
For men’s trench coats, Hermes came out on top with the Liverpool trench coat. Retailing for £3,310 and with a price mark up of 1,345.41% this 100% virgin wool coat is as stylish as it is comfortable.
Originally a window dresser, Giorgio Armani was taken on in the clothing design world due to his intricate knowledge of fabrics and textiles. This expertise really shows itself throughout the Armani range. Although both the men’s and women’s trench coats had the lowest brand premiums of 358% and 301% respectively, the 100% virgin wool trench coats are still of exquisite quality.
It’s important to start your day off on the right foot and according to Dior, this means an 855.06% mark up on their red and white calfskin trainers. These trainers may look fairly simple on the surface but they’re actually full of intricate details. The super soft smooth calfskin leather and Dior Oblique print upper feel luxurious on your feet and even the eyelets feature the infamous ‘CD icon’.
For menswear, Hermes utilises their leather working skills once again in their Day Sneaker. The 493.75% brand premium isn’t for nought though as these sleek trainers offer incredible quality and some really unique design choices that make them an iconic addition to any wardrobe.
Considering they started out creating travel trunks back in the 1830s, Louis Vuitton may not be the brand you first think of for sunglasses but just like their dedicated approach to leather work, Louis Vuitton sunglasses are exquisitely designed and offer timeless silhouettes. We looked at the La Grande Bellezza women’s sunglasses which retail for £355 and sport a 136.67% brand premium. The thick frames offer plenty of detail such as the arms ending in the same shape as their iconic Speedy bag and LV branded studs throughout.
For men’s sunglasses, we found that Balenciaga marked up their products the most. The logo wrap around sunglasses retail for £465 and have a markup of 272% over the non-branded counterparts.
Looking at the lowest increases for sunglasses reveals some interesting results. Compared to the non-branded sunglasses we looked at, the brands with the lowest mark up prices were Burberry with their 20% increase in women’s sunglasses. For men’s sunglasses, Versace and Burberry both tied with a 48% price markup.
Because of the time, materials, and expertise that go into creating luxury handbags, this is the category where we saw the highest brand premiums. In the women’s department, Yves Saint Laurent had the largest price mark-up percentages on their bags. Trained and mentored by Christian Dior in the 1950s, Saint Laurent was known for his fresh designs and unique style and although the 1980s and 90s were rocky for the designer, the YSL brand continued to grow and become the infamous fashion house we know today. We looked at the Sac Du Jour bag which retails for £2330 and has a price 2,641.18% higher than the non-branded equivilent.
The Cityhall briefcase from Hermes is an exemplary example of incredible design. The smooth lines and classic silhouette make it an excellent wardrobe staple bag for men. When it comes to Hermes bags, you’re paying for top-notch quality and centuries of expertise which is reflected in its £6,890 retail price and 2,020% brand premium.
For womenswear, Versace commanded the lowest margin of 880% and Armani was the lowest for menswear at 127%.
Although they’re famous for their feminine silhouettes and graceful designs Dior’s womenswear isn’t limited to just dresses and shoes. They’ve been cited as the catalyst for Paris’ revival as the fashion capital of the world and have offered some revolutionary couture in the past as well. We examined the Dior Polo Shirt. At £940 and a 1,153.33% brand premium, this is a timeless piece that proudly emblazons the designer across your chest and is the product with the highest value in womenswear.
Relentless in their pursuit of striking designs, Balenciaga is once again at the top of our list for menswear. Founded by Cristóbal Balenciaga in the 1910s, the design house has been creating controversial and unexpected designs ever since. The Layered Sports Polo might be a little understated to what we’ve come to expect from this household name, but the current designer Demna Gvasalia knows what he’s doing. Retailing for £750, and with a brand premium of 900%, this is the epitome of luxury athleisure wear.
It’s interesting to see that, after reliably being the lowest in every other category, Italian-based Armani has come out on top for the brand with the highest brand premiums in women’s trousers. Made from 96% wool, their highly tailored trousers saw a 460.85% jump with a retail price of £1,318.
Another interesting takeaway is that after being one of the luxury brands with the highest brand premiums in bags, Yves Saint Laurent was the label with the lowest jump in men’s trousers with 278.79% versus the 859.60% of Dior - the highest in this category.
Along with handbags, denim was another category that saw large margins across the board. A lot of work, time, and expertise goes into a well-made pair of jeans so it’s no wonder that these wardrobe staples saw a 3,866.67% brand premium from Hermes in womens wear. The pair of jeans we looked at retail for £2,380 but are as exquisitely designed as we’ve come to expect from the master designers at Hermes.
For the menswear, our attention turned once more to the Spanish-founded, Georgian designed, Balenciaga jeans which retail for £895. Compared to the women’s jeans we looked at, the brand premium was a modest 795%. The oversized streetwear style of the jeans is iconic of the baggy “sack-like” clothes that Balenciaga are famous for and the 50/50 colouring makes for a real statement piece in your wardrobe.
There was an interesting difference between the prices of women and menswear jeans from Armani. Once again the Italian brand was the lowest on the list for markup percentages but the difference is interesting. The menswear jeans only had a margin of 40% - one of the lowest on our list overall - whereas the women’s jeans saw a margin of 200% over the non-branded denim we looked at.
A good pair of leather shoes will last you for a lifetime if they're well cared for so it’s no wonder that the brand premiums on them are fairly high. Hermes took the top spot of the brand with the highest values for both men and women’s shoes and we wouldn’t expect anything less from the master leather workers themselves. The goatskin leather women’s shoes retail for £1,130 and sport a 479.49% brand premium while the men’s calfskin leather shoes retail for the same price but with a 343.14% brand premium. Armani had the lowest margins out of both the men’s and women’s shoe categories with 16% and 135% respectively.
The final luxury category we looked into was wallets. It’ll come as no surprise that the leatherworking master, Hermes, came first again as the brand with the highest brand premiums on their products. Made from soft, supple, and delightfully luxurious calfskin, the women’s wallet we looked at had a margin of 484% with a retail price of £2,190.
For the men’s wallet, we saw a retail price of £1,030 which had a 1,187.50% brand premium and is made from calf leather. The luxury brands with the lowest margins on wallets were Burberry with just 20% in womenswear and Versace with 275% in mens.
A Lifetime Investment
From watches to designer handbags, luxury items hold strong resale value or even appreciate over time. We recommend taking good care of your luxury items so they don’t lose their value. Always invest in their care - if damaged, take your goods to a professional who can easily make them like new again and extend its life.
Overall, womenswear saw a much larger increase in prices than menswear did although it wasn’t exclusive and men’s products were sometimes the more expensive options. Products that are often considered staple pieces (denim and bags) tend to be more expensive than other items that change a lot with the trends (tops and jumpers).
In general, the reason why luxury brands have larger brand premiums on their products than cheaper high street shops is down to quality. For example, a Hermes bag has hundreds of years of design and construction expertise behind it which is clear in the quality of the products. You aren’t just purchasing any product, you’re spending your money on good materials, supporting excellent designers, and investing in a piece that will last you a lifetime.
When it comes to quality, at Diamond’s Factory we only sell the best. From exquisite diamond engagement rings and matching wedding bands to stunning diamond earrings and bracelets, shop our diamond jewellery now.