In case you had forgotten that the end of summer is generally a bit of a slow news period in fashion, we’re here to remind you! The New York Daily News (with some help from counted down the most powerful global luxury brands of 2010 this spring, and although we didn’t have a chance to post about it back then, we do now. Consulting firm Millward Brown Optimor comes out with this list every year, and the brands staking claim to the top spots in the middle of a bad economy for luxury likely won’t surprise handbag aficionados.

Even though the industry as a whole is down about 3%, number one-ranked Louis Vuitton has still managed to grow its worth by 2% to nearly $20 billion, which appears to refer to just the brand and not the entirety of the LVMH conglomerate. Hermes, meanwhile, comes in at number two and has grown by 8% to almost $8.5 billion. Rounding out the top three, Gucci is up 2% with a little over $7.5 billion. What do all three brands have in common? None of them are bolstered by the high-margin cosmetics market (although Hermes and Gucci both have fragrance lines) and all three are most famous for their handbags and leather goods.

Two other brands with large presences in the handbag market also make the list: Chanel and Fendi, at number four and number nine, respectively. Both have lost value as companies in the past year (Is Karl Lagerfeld losing his touch? That’s another post entirely), but they’re still doing better than almost all of their competition. The article in the Daily News doesn’t make mention of the brands’ power in the handbag market, but the common thread seems hard to ignore.

Handbags have higher margins and are more widely marketable than a dress or even a shoe because they’re perceived (and rightfully so) as having a larger number of practical uses and a more durable, long-lasting nature. But it’s worth remembering: the money you spend on bags is making the people who design them extremely wealthy and powerful. At the very least, you should be getting a well-made bag and a great shopping experience in return. If you’re not, vote with your dollars. Who would be on your personal power list?

See the full list via the New York Daily News.

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  • papertiger

    I think that Gucci’s 2% increase in growth was entirley due to my overspending ;)

  • Bagolicious

    It doesn’t surprise me that Louis Vuitton would be number 1 as the popularity of it keeps growing. It’s amazing to see how, over the decades, it has become a household name.

    I remember when I bought my first LV handbag (Chantilly, crossbody shoulder bag) back in 1980 at the original Paris LV boutique on Avenue Marceau. When I came home, almost nobody knew who Louis Vuitton was. I had known the name since the early 70s, but here in the States, it wasn’t that well-known then. Friends, who also vacationed in Europe knew though. But, it wasn’t a household name.

    As for Gucci, I’m surprised that Gucci is at #2. I’m not surprised that it’s on the list though as I think Gucci has been a household name for a long time when it comes to an Italian handbag company. I think most people would think Gucci when they think Italian.

    And it doesn’t shock me that Hermes has grown so much as I see the trend, especially in young women, wanting to own an Hermes. That’s the group that once bought Vuitton, but has decided that they need something “better”. I feel it to be, with some groups of women, a “status” thing more than anything. It’s shocking how many “young” women I see, here in L.A., carrying Birkins.

    As for Chanel, I can understand why it has slipped. I once adored Chanel, back in the 80s and early to mid 90s. But, in my opinion, there has been so much awful-looking stuff coming out that either one ends up buying a traditional flap bag or some strange creation like those bubble leather bags. I don’t find that there’s a lot in between.

    I was at the rue Cambon Chanel boutique, in Paris, a few months ago and didn’t see anything that excited me. I was carrying my vintage, Chanel tote bag which repeatedly turned the sales staff’s heads. They were all checking it out as I walked by. Many commented how beautiful it was.

    I personally found Chanel exciting in the 80s to mid 90s when the rue Cambon boutique was wonderful and the handbags were really fabulous. I try to check out Chanel each year when in Paris, but nothing has really excited me. I find many more interesting Chanels at many of the resale boutiques around Paris as they sell vintage. Plus, I think Chanel has slipped because of the ridiculous price increases.

    As for Fendi, I think the introduction of the Peekaboo handbag has brought it out of a slump. It probably would be lower than #9 if it weren’t for the Peekaboo.

    • michelle ( another one)

      can you pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee post a picture of the chanel vintage bag. :-). I haven’t slept in 2 days. This would make me sleep in 2 seconds.

    • Ping

      Well said! I agree with you on all this! I remember when I bought my first LV bag (a speedy) in the 80’s. I was working as part time as a waitress while going to college and my boss/owner of the restaurant (a German lady said she had her speedy for over 10 years and I was so amazed how this bag can look so good after all those years!) I went to Shorthills mall in NJ and bought my first speedy (i think it was $150 at that time and that was HUGE investment for this immigrant girl). I still HAVE THAT BAG! and my mom still uses it:) It amazes me how many mall rats/teenager and their mothers are carrying this!
      As for Chanel, I have not bought anything in the last couple of years as i have not found anything to justify their price tags and none of the new bags have set my heart on fire. While I love my Hermes collection, I have to agree that after buying a croc birkin, i can’t be that excited over Birkins anymore. I have friends who buy birkins just b/c they are birkins.
      I have always love my handbags (and have collected them for over 20 years, even during my ramen noodle days) I was the one buying that ONE great bag vs. 10 cheap bags and I have all those bags still and they are in amazing shapes. Like you, when I bring out one of my “vintage” bags, people always ask where did I get that:)
      I m afraid, after the sex and the city series/movies, bag designers/fashion houses have run amok, with so many boring bags or over priced bags frankly are just not that exciting anymore. Plus I hate carrying something everyone else is carrying:)

  • Dorian Gray

    Where is Prada? I would surely put in Marc Jacobs, Versace (I know, I know I’m dreaming) and YSL.

  • MAX

    LV and Hermes are the most recognizable brand I think but I also love Balenciaga Chanel Prada and other brand but still for 1000$ u can get a very nice LV bag while other brands cost more.

  • Bagolicious

    Michelle: I don’t know how to post photos and I’m not good at cut and paste. But, if you go to and then type and click on Chanel and handbags, then go to Page 21 and scroll, there is one there exactly like the one that I bought although I didn’t buy mine through Malleries.

    On the website, the Malleries one is labeled as, “Authentic Vintage Chanel Black XL Jumbo Tote Bag $1599.” That bag has been sold for many months. I got mine before I saw that one on Malleries. Mine was in mint condition and was $1275. It works so well either dressed up or down. And it rests very well on the shoulder and hangs very nicely.

    While at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, and checking in, the young woman at security stopped and commented about my tote bag, as I had it sitting in the basket of my luggage cart. After she finished commenting about my bag, then she started asking the security questions.

    Then when I got off the plane in Chicago to change planes on to L.A., many women, including flight attendants at the airport, commented on it. It’s just simple elegance and a decent size. Although it’s called jumbo, it’s definitely not a jumbo size. And it has the toggle style chain that slides through 4 circular cut outs. I prefer this style as if the leather, intertwined in the chain ever wears out, I can just slip it out, zip over to Chanel and take in only the chain, and have it replaced and then slip it back into the circular cut outs. The chain slips out easily.

    When one is buying vintage Chanel, it’s important to carefully inspect the leather that’s intertwined in the chain as sometimes the leather can break. I’ve seen some broken leather on a few vintage bags.

    I also like Chanel bags that have the black, zipper tab with Chanel, written in gold letters, on it as my tote bag has.

  • Ping

    I totally agree with Bagolicious’ comments! I remember when I bought my first LV bag (a speedy) in the 80’s. I was working as part time as a waitress while going to college and my boss/owner of the restaurant (a German lady said she had her speedy for over 10 years and I was so amazed how this bag can look so good after all those years!) I went to Shorthills mall in NJ and bought my first speedy (i think it was $150 at that time and that was HUGE investment for this immigrant girl). I still HAVE THAT BAG! and my mom still uses it:) It amazes me how many mall rats/teenager and their mothers are carrying this!
    As for Chanel, I have not bought anything in the last couple of years as i have not found anything to justify their price tags and none of the new bags have set my heart on fire. While I love my Hermes collection, I have to agree that after buying a croc birkin, i can’t be that excited over Birkins anymore. I have friends who buy birkins just b/c they are birkins.

  • Bagolicious

    Ping: I agree on the quality of the past decades. My Vuittons were nearly indestructible. I bought my Chantilly, cross body, shoulder bag in 1980 for about $125. There’s one on for sale right now.

    I sold my Chantilly around 7 years ago and for more than double of what I had initially paid for it. It was in mint condition. I also have a briefcase bought in the early 80s that I bought for around $150. I still use it nearly daily.

    All of my other monogram pieces, a good dozen or so, I sold many years ago, except for my late 1980s Bisten and Triomphe, hard-sided suitcases and my two 1980s Keepalls. As far as handbags go, for some years now I’ve only bought Epi leather as it still seems the same.

    I also had a Speedy in the early 80s. I sold it, too and easily. One of my friends still has her 1980s Speedy that I picked up for her in Paris. When I dropped by her house, a few months ago, she brought it out and it still looks really good.

    I was in Vuitton, last weekend, as a friend asked me to look at something he’s interested in and give an opinion. The “young” salesman asked me if I thought the quality had gone down over the decades upon which I responded that I thought it had as the monogram, vinyl that my pieces were made from, was thicker back when I bought monogram, than I’ve noticed it being since the 90s. Plus, the natural-colored leather straps were thicker,too.

    And I agree with you that fashion/handbag designers and houses have run amok. And many young women have also run amok. When I read very young woman, those with “teen” still at the end of their age, say that they need an “every day” handbag, something like…Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga, Chanel, Gucci, etc…I just shake my head.

    My every day bags are usually nice ones from T.J.Maxx and I use the really good ones on weekends, but never at work. And I bought my first LV a couple of days before my 25th birthday and had finished university….undergrad and grad… and had been working in my career and fully supporting myself. So, I didn’t have the word “teen” still in my age.

    • Ping

      B, Again, i must concur with everything you said! I have sold some of my work LV collection in the last few years for a profit when I stopped working in an office setting. I tend to like more “discreet” bags without all the logos. Hence if I buy LV bags, I tend to buyin vernis, epi leather and also limited LV bags I kept my first speedy (as I said, my mom has it and one monogram ellipse bag I got in Ireland years ago so I kept it to remind me of the trip:)
      I have a Balenciaga I picked up at outlet that I have never seen anywhere else before (it’s nothing like those weekenders/city bags with those awful thimbles sticking out). I get quite a few compliments and people are always shocked it s a balenciaga. While I love my Hermes and Chanel bags, I probably use my chinatown bags on a daily basis with three small children:) and my business. In my neck of the woods, it’s not unusual for a 10 year old to receive her first LV bag which I think it’s a little ridiculous. As for these teenagers, all i can say is that they are probably following their mothers’ steps or trying to immulate those so called “celebrities” who are famous for doing nothing. Just because they are carrying so call designer bags, it does not mean they have taste.
      I also find that with the exception of Hermes, so many name brands are made poorly. One of my nylon tod bags I picked up a couple years ago just “died” on me as the zipper gave out while a PRADA NYLON backpack I bought more than 10 years ago lived through three children (as my diaper bag) and numerous trips oversees, and it’s still in great condition!
      Like you, I tend to buy myself something special on certain ocassions (ie a deal closing, a big birthday), unless i see a bag i must have. But i have not seen anything that just make me go “I got to have that bag!” in a very very long time! Because of my genuine love for bags, i have become friends with some of the sales people and even they agree that there are so much “junk” at each season, even at Neimans and that fashion houses are just randomly setting ridiculous prices b/c there are so many of these women running amok trying to find the next “it” bag. Now days, a boring average bag can start at $1500. I have a gorgeous fendi banguette in satin with asian flower motif sewn on from 1997 that I bought for $750 , and now days a boring lambskin starts around $1500.
      The reason Gucci Hermes and LV are still at the top of the list, it is because these brands are hot in asia and in russia, where all the money is now. I know in China and Russia, brand names are important and Hermes and LV rank in the top two. (there are so many Hermes stores in China now) Gucci is popular in Russia for the clothes and shoes too. So many brands with junk will be weeded out as the economy in this country keeps on tanking:(

  • Demi

    I can totally understand why LV is at the top. It’s not my favourite, but it surely is a brand that makes really good purses, that are somehow more affordable than Hermes, for example. I don’t understand though why Chanel isn’t at least one of the top 3… I think Chanel’s designs are very classic and timeless. You can buy a Chanel bag at 18 and wear it for a lifetime. Not only are Chanel bags made of high-quality leather, but their craftmanship is well.. just perfect!!! I don’t believe this applies for LV.

  • Bagolicious

    Ping: Very true about China and Russia and just Asia in general. There are cultures now who have a higher economy than what they had decades ago and many have not been in the consumption of luxury goods for that long, as compared to many Western countries. So, there’s a whole new market for the designers to tap into and many customers will pay whatever for the new “status” of it all.

    Almost annually, I spend part of my time in Southeast Asia and I know plenty of women with “authentic” luxury bags and I don’t know how many of them can afford them as their salaries are very low compared to salaries in the West. But, the luxury stores are there and they are filled with customers.

    • Ping

      B, I can’t speak that much for other parts of Asia, but I visit Shanghai and Beijing and Moscow regularly. I agrees that while the average chinese lady may not be able to buy a chanel, there are plenty of millionaires and billionaires in shanghai and moscow buying these items. In America, i don’t think many women can afford to buy chanels or Hermes. Plus during the decade in the states, people were “house”poor and now that the house values are tanking, most of these american “millionaires” are no longer millionaires.
      In moscow and shanghai, some of the luxury bags cost even more than in the US (I know someone scored a Hermes Birkin in Moscow for $2000 more than it would cost her here, even from the H store and she gladly paid for it). I think there are two Hermes stores in Shanghai and even more in Hangzhou which is only an hour outside of Shanghai and several in Beijing (while there are only two in NYC).
      I joke with my husband that my bag collection is actually a better investment than real estate:).

  • Bagolicious

    Ping: LOL! Yes, the bags are probably a better investment than real estate these days.

    What I was referring to as to who is buying the luxury brands as far as what I see in S.E. Asia, I wasn’t referring to those who have lots of money. The lots-of-money people can buy whatever. I’m referring to all of the so-called High-So’s, who are not really into big, money making careers, but are still being High So’s and snapping up the luxury brands.

    Even a mid-priced brand like Kipling, which I love and have bought since the 80s, is being snapped up like crazy. It’s been very popular in the region and for many years.

    And Kipling in S.E. Asia is very expensive compared to what I buy it for here. When the bellhop, at my serviced apartment building, came to get my bags to take to the taxi, he noticed my Kipling suitcases and the little monkey key chains dangling from it and pointed and said, “Kipling, monkey!”. Those were the only English words he spoke to me. I took the monkey key chain off and gave it to him. A year later when I returned to my building he spotted me, smiled, and said, “Kipling, monkey!”.

    Now, as for Shanghai, Beijing, and Moscow, that’s a different story. I haven’t been to those three places, but I’ve heard from others, plus, I read a lot and notice the different luxury brands who have settled down in the above mentioned places. And Shanghai I’ve heard is a real hot spot for luxury goods.

    • Ping

      B I’m beginning to be envious of ur job and all the cool travel u do! I have slowed down bc of kids and change of career.
      U r rt about the emerging middle class girls/women in these countries buying ‘designer’ brands. They r probably spending half of their salaries on a bag. Also in some of those countries, younger people often lives w their parents until they r married,hence have disposable income and no debt. No doubt it’s probably following America’s footsteps in the 90’s. I remember a girlfriend who lived in a disgusting small studio in NYC and spent all her money on designer wear and prada and fendi bags. She didn’t have any savings but look like a millionaire.

  • bentos

    actually there are several luxury shops opening up in asia. and really, lots of people buy luxury goods in asia. i think it’s not with the salary that needs to be based, since it’s true that asian countries mostly provides lower salary than the westerns, but it’s also a fact, that there are several and more business men and women in asia who does not rely on salaries, especially chinese. they have their own businesses that makes them capable of buying luxury goods. most chinese friends of mine in china and philippines owns their own businesses and that is what i’m trying to put myself in since my dad is a businessman.

  • bentos

    i’m glad that fendi made it to the ninth spot, i love fendi ever since high school. i was even surprised that prada didn’t make it. my bags, wallets and eyewears are mostly prada, but i think prada still sells big. prada is one of the most visited store here in the philippines. i love louis vuitton, but i was quite discouraged after seeing so many people wearing them on the streets, it’s like investing on it and other buys counterfeit sometimes it’s losing out the lv’s image as really luxurious. many people shops at louis vuitton, so it’s undoubtedly at number 1. i also love bottega veneta, i love buying their shoes and bags, but i know, it’s still not as famous as the other brands. ermenegildo zegna too, but their popular in just men’s clothing and accessories. hope bottega, prada, zegna and fendi would thrive in next time. anyway, gucci also sells big here, and i love it too, but not as mauch as i like prada and bottega.

  • Bagolicious

    Ping: My job is not connected to my travel. I travel to rest and kick back. Pure, uninterrupted vacation time.

  • Jelita78

    Bagolicious and Ping : I really enjoyed reading everything u said! and i tend to agree as i am born raised and living in asia now – malaysia to be exact.
    true that we do not get paid as high as the westeners.
    true that we have to bare the 30% import tax imposed for all branded items (darnn these bloodsuckingcustoms people!! )
    but the thing is, we are not collectors.
    many of us re-sell our bags in order to keep the money rolling and buy new/ used ones.
    the consignment shops are emerging like mushrooms!
    u can see the trend especially in taiwan, hongkong, korea, and japan too. singapore and malaysia are not the exception.
    and u can tell from some purseforum those who came to vacation in asia will go and search for these consignment stores for the best deals..
    as a proof , u can check ebay and see that all the biggest power sellers are from taiwan and japan and they are only selling Chanel and LV and Hermes.
    in other words, we don’t live broke to collect bags, but we actually resell them to keep the money rolling.
    myself for instance start off with buying Guess during the early graduated days.. then I sold them all to buy Coach, and now selling my Coach to buy LV.. so u see, we are evolving, in a good way.. i think.. (ipad)

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