Nike is the world’s most valuable apparel brand for the seventh consecutive year, according to data from the Brand Finance Apparel 50 2021 report. In a trying year for retailers and brands, the total value of the world’s top 50 most valuable apparel companies declined by 8 percent.
Footwear brands are the only category to see growth, up 9 percent on average. Coach is the sector’s fastest falling brand, brand value down 31 percent. Rolex is world’s strongest apparel brand, Brand Strength Index (BSI) score 89.6 out of 100.
Richard Haigh, Managing Director, Brand Finance, commented: “2020 was undoubtedly a tough year for the apparel sector. Global and widespread economic disruption caused a sharp decrease in demand and lockdown-induced store closures forced brands to digitalise quickly or face dire consequences to sales and profits. Despite the total brand value of the world’s top 50 most valuable apparel brands declining 8 percent year-on-year, on the whole we have witnessed remarkable agility and innovation across the sector, which will no doubt stand brands in good stead in the coming year.”
Nike does it again
Nike maintains a considerable lead over second-ranked Gucci, with a brand value of 15.6 billion dollars, down 12 percent from 2020. Nike’s sales were impacted by local lockdowns with the majority of its stores across North America, EMEA and, Asia Pacific shut due to the pandemic. The brand saw an impressive uptick in online sales, however, which almost doubled in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
One reason Nike continues to hold the top spot is that it continues to innovate its product lines, most significantly the controversial Nike Vaporflys, a shoe that has dominated the international athletics arena in recent years, with athletes wearing them claiming 31 of the 36 podium positions in the six world marathon majors in 2019. With the shoe surviving a ban for the now-postponed Tokyo Olympics, Nike can once again showcase itself as a brand that has helped to change the face of world athletics and sport.
Footwear brands stamp authority and record growth
The apparel ranking is divided into sub sectors: luxury; sportswear; fast fashion; watches, accessories & jewellery; high street designer; underwear; and footwear. Of these sub sectors footwear is the only one to record an increase in brand value year-on-year, posting a 9 percent increase in brand value on average. New entrants Timberland and Converse have performed particularly well this year, recording a 47 percent and 8 percent brand value increase, respectively. Nike-owned Converse saw a modest uplift in sales last year, due to an increase in demand in Europe, as well has higher global digital sales.
In contrast, underwear brands have suffered the most significantly this year, with the two brands featured in the ranking losing an average of 19 percent of brand value. Victoria’s Secret (brand value down 22 percent to 4.2 billion dollars) is the third fastest falling brand in the ranking. The brand has been facing continued backlash for the lack of diversity in its marketing and in model line-up, an issue that has only been exacerbated as Gen Z consumers, in particular, are redefining the social norms around body image.
The other sub sectors also fare less favourably this year, all recording drops in average total brand value: luxury (down 10 percent); sportswear (down 7 percent); fast fashion (down 7 percent); watches, accessories & jewellery (down 4 percent); high street designer (down 13 percent).
Ones to watch
Fila is the fastest growing brand in this year’s Brand Finance Apparel 50 ranking following an impressive 68 percent brand value increase to 2.7 billion dollars. The brand, which operates in 70 countries through licensing deals, celebrated strong sales growth towards the end of last year, particularly within the Chinese market. Since Fila Korea purchased the global Fila brand in 2007, the brand has worked on strategically embracing the return of trends which helped it make its name across the sector originally, including 90s fashion making several comebacks.
New entrants Timberland and Bosideng are the second and third fastest growing brands, up 47 percent and 39 percent respectively. China’s Bosideng has entered the ranking in 50th position, with a brand value of 1.5 billion dollars. Bosideng announced a new clothing line launched with Jean Paul Gaultier, the former creative director of French luxury fashion house Hermès (down 2 percent to 11.7 billion dollars), which is being sold in stores and online on Chinese e-commerce giant Tmall’s platform.
Rolex scores AAA+
In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance also evaluates the relative strength of brands, based on factors such as marketing investment, customer familiarity, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation. Alongside revenue forecasts, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value. According to these criteria, Rolex (up 1 percent to 7.9 billion dollars) is once again the strongest apparel brand in the world, with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 89.6 out of 100 and a corresponding elite AAA+ brand strength rating.
Image: Nike 2021 campaign