I recently came across an interesting article on Media Post regarding which brands we considered to be most stylish in 1993 vs. which brands we consider to be most stylish today. It's not only interesting to look back with amazement at what we praised 16 years ago, but also to see what brands Americans consider to be most stylish today. The research was compiled from Landor's BrandAsset Valuator.
The 15 Most Stylish Brands
The article surrounding this list is a good read.
After thinking about this list further, a few additional things came to my mind...
1. We Have Evolved, My Friends. With the exception of Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, in 1993, our most stylish clothing brands conveyed casualness and comfort. But today we want more depth, opinion and luxury when it comes to style. Furthermore, style now means "what you wear." In 1993, car brands made the list. Today, if it's not on your body, or an accessory, it doesn't enter the top realms of "most stylish." (And by the way, what's up with our apparent focus on the bottom half of our bodies in '93? Running shoes and pants make up nearly all our clothing selections.)
2. Becoming Affordable for Everyone Don't Necessarily Remove a Premium Brand From Contention. Many of the premium brands listed as most stylish in 2008 have diversified their product lines to be accessible at lower price points: Donna Karan/DKNY, Vera Wang/Vera, Ralph Lauren/Chaps. One thing this list proves is that premium fashion brands can diversify themselves, move down-market, and still retain an overall image of high-style among the masses.
3. Focus + Ongoing Refinement = Longevity. To remain on such a list over a long period of time, a brand must have a focused opinion while ever-evolving its delivery. On this point, I like the rock star analogy: Many of the all-time greats--U2, Madonna, Springsteen--have kept their core brand focused over the years but have evolved their delivery to remain relevant with pop culture. Brands are the same way... Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Nike (the only three brands to make both lists) all stand for the same things today that they did in 1993, but their presentation over the last 16 years has continually evolved to remain current.