The 10 Oldest Fashion Houses Still in Operation

Old things have always resonated with us. Ancient cities, storied culinary traditions, even vintage clothes—we’re big fans of them all. So when a recent conversation among a few Who What Wear colleagues led us to realize we didn’t know the founding dates of all of our favorite brands, we decided why not do a little research and share our findings with all of you? What we came upon was a treasure trove of historical images, tidbits, facts, and dates that admittedly gave us not only goosebumps but also a deeper appreciation of these long-lived labels. From Chanel all the way to Yves Saint Laurent, see below to brush up on your fashion history. Also, if the subject matter is particularly interesting to you, pick up a few of these suggested titles for a little reading.

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Earning his beginnings as a trunk maker, Louis Vuitton settled in Asnières-sur-Seine, laying the groundwork for his brand that continues to be a highly successful business today, over 150 years later.

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Founded as a leather goods shop in Milan by Mario Prada, the brand has become a household name, especially thanks to Miuccia Prada’s arrival to the scene in 1970. 

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Though Thierry Hermès’s business began as a saddlery company, we all know how the story turns out (the first handbag came to be in 1922, by the way).

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Jeanne Lanvin drew great inspiration from her daughter, Marguerite Marie Blanche (coined a “miniature muse”), creating elegant clothing for both women and their children.

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Coco Chanel got her start making hats at a shop at 31 Rue Cambon. As we all know, she went on to do much, much more.

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Nina Ricci founded her haute couture house in Paris at 20 Rue des Capucines. Her legacy of feminine simplicity remains to this day.

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Christian Dior opened his couture house in 1946, and in 1947, he debuted The New Look, which would ignite a new generation of women’s fashions that continues to be influential.

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Hubert de Givenchy founded his couture house in Paris, but not before serving as an assistant (the first) to Elsa Schiaparelli.

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Valentino Garavani showed his first collection in Florence, and a few short years later, his designs were purchased by First Lady Jackie-O.

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After working for Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent started his own fashion label in Paris, founding a legacy that to this day continues to be complex and inspiring.

Which of these designers is your most favorite? Tell us in the comments.