Apparel sees rapid growth globally, as athleisure becomes the norm

The Kantar BrandZ Most Valuable Global Brands 2021 ranking shows that apparel brands saw some of the fastest brand value growth in the last year, as shoppers grew their athleisure wardrobes.
28 June 2021
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Nathalie Burdet
Nathalie
Burdet

Chief Marketing Officer

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The apparel category grew in value by 53% over the last year, outpacing the growth of the media & entertainment Top 10, and second only to consumer technology in the Kantar BrandZ™ global rankings. 

The sector benefited from changing habits during lockdown, as shoppers prioritised loungewear and athleisure brands such as Lululemon, Nike, Puma and Adidas. Luxury brands also saw significant brand value growth, with the category growing 34% in value thanks to a commitment to their corporate reputation.

Kantar BrandZ™ Top 10 Most Valuable Apparel Brands 2021

Rank 2020

Rank Change

Brand

Country of Origin

Brand value 2021 ($MN)

Brand value 2020 ($MN)

Brand Value Increase

1

0

Nike

US

83,709

49,962

68%

2

+1

Adidas

Germany

22,344

14,812

51%

3

-1

Zara

Spain

21,382

21,286

0%

4

0

Lululemon

Canada

17,893

9,669

85%

5

0

Uniqlo

Japan

15,443

8,217

88%

6

0

H&M

Sweden

6,871

4,662

47%

7

+2

Puma

Germany

3,607

2,134

69%

8

N/A

ANTA

China

3,005

N/A

N/A

9

-1

The North Face

US

2,987

2,449

22%

10

N/A

ASOS

UK

2,868

N/A

N/A


This year’s study showed that diversifying channels, such as live-streamed content, gamification and subscription models played a key role in driving growth. Nike and Lululemon both benefited from investment in these areas.

We also found that athleisure brands are highly differentiated in their positioning. The top three athleisure brands have an average of 130 on the Difference Index vs. 111 for the top three global fashion brands (the average brand scores 100). In contrast, fashion brands were driven by salience, with an average index of 137, seeing growth thanks to their ubiquity and reputation.

Of the apparel brands, Uniqlo saw the fastest growth (of 88%), thanks to its unique business model – avoiding appealing to fast fashion like competitors, instead ordering large batches of basic wear that won’t go out of fashion. Further, its ethical business model is recognised by consumers as being inclusive, available for all shapes and sizes, and environmentally sustainable.

UK brand ASOS and Chinese sports brand ANTA entered the category ranking for the first time thanks to domestic success in their home markets. ASOS’ growth comes thanks to its strong digital offering and differentiation – being seen as having a rebellious heroic personality, which sets it apart from competitors. In contrast ANTA has tapped into health and wellness trends over the last few years.

Louis Vuitton retained its number 1 spot and was the fastest riser in the luxury category, growing 46% year on year. The brand has strong consumer relationships around the world and remains the most culturally relevant of luxury brands, being seen as increasingly innovative due to timely celebrity, gaming and brand partnerships, and a growing ecommerce and social presence.

Luxury benefits Europe

European brands continue to dominate the luxury ranking, with the top 10 brands faring well in the last year thanks to significant global exposure. Despite a year where travel was reduced (upon which many European luxury brands are reliant), Louis Vuitton and Dior saw above average growth, supported by differentiated positioning. Collectively the luxury brand category saw a 34% increase in value.

Gains were supported by strong reputation-building led by pandemic initiatives, sustainable transformation, and support for social movements such as Black Lives Matter. Collectively, luxury brands grew their corporate responsibility scores by five points vs. 2020, helping to defend their premium pricing – with products seen as worth more in 2021 than 2020.

Kantar BrandZ™ Top 10 Most Valuable Luxury Brands 2021

Rank 2020

Rank Change

Brand

Country of Origin

Brand value 2021 ($MN)

Brand value 2020 ($MN)

Brand Value Increase

1

0

Louis Vuitton

France

75,730

51,177

46%

2

0

Chanel

France

47,054

36,120

30%

3

0

Hermès

France

46,371

33,008

40%

4

0

Gucci

Italy

33,838

27,238

24%

5

0

Rolex

Switzerland

8,129

7,433

9%

6

+1

Dior

France

7,331

5,117

43%

7

-1

Cartier

France

5,368

5,214

3%

8

0

Saint-Laurent/Yves Saint Laurent

France

5,158

3,972

30%

9

+1

Prada

Italy

3,974

3,059

30%

10

-1

Burberry

UK

3,933

3,847

2%


China remains the most likely challenger to European dominance of the luxury top 10 most valuable brands. Whilst not a traditional luxury brand, Baiju alcohol brand Moutai is the world’s most valuable liquor company (surpassing Diageo three years ago). With bottles costing approx. £100 and upwards, and with a limited capacity, Moutai is a luxury in China, although often relatively unrecognised in the rest of the world. The growth of Moutai indicates that we may see the next big luxury brand coming out of China. This year’s results indicate that despite economic hardship, as consumers, we are still treating ourselves. Both the apparel and luxury markets have seen growth thanks to their ability to adapt to changing habits and market conditions.

The Kantar BrandZ™ Most Valuable Global Brands ranking continues to show high growth brands have a stronger reputation – especially for sustainable and ethical purposes. To compete effectively, luxury and apparel brands must demonstrate meaningful difference – the winning formula for future growth.

The Kantar BrandZ™ Most Valuable Global Brands 2021 ranking, report and extensive analysis are available here.

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