The 20 Most Successful American Fashion Brands

August 22, 2019 by John Harrington

The United States has exercised an outsized influence on popular culture since the early part of the 20th century through motion pictures and the creation of music genres such as jazz and rock and roll. In regard to older cultural forms, such as literature and cuisine, America’s impact has been less profound. That has also been the case with fashion, though American style has been finding more favor worldwide. These are America’s most popular fashion influencers.

America does not have the design house tradition of France or Italy, nor is it known for the political provocativeness of fashion trend-makers from the United Kingdom or the experimental adventurousness of Japanese artists. However, American designers are carving out a niche in casual, active apparel that is uniquely American that appeals to markets beyond the country.

To recognize America’s place in the fashion world, 24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of the 20 most successful U.S. fashion brands. The list is based on longevity, name recognition, metrics involving foot traffic from the company Placed, store number, revenue, and other measures of success. All revenue figures are for the specific brand, not the parent company, unless otherwise noted.

What distinguishes America’s most successful fashion brands are longevity, practicality, ease of wear, and the ability to appeal to many people.

Brooks Brothers, known for its classic men’s suits and Levi’s, maker of jeans, are two brands on the list with origins in the 19th century. The Gap, and its other brands Old Navy and Banana Republic, has created an enduring reputation with easy-to-wear, casual lines. Donna Karan made upscale women’s fashion accessible. Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Nike all project a distinctly American image. Hilfiger, Karan, and Lauren are among the most influential American designers of all time — and these are the most popular fashion designers in history.

Click here to see the most successful American fashion brands.

Source: frankenmedia / Flickr

20. Brooks Brothers
> Founded: 1818
> Parent Company: Brooks Brothers Group, Inc. (not publicly traded)
> What it sells: Classic American suits, Oxford shirts
> Stores worldwide: 500+
> Revenue: $1 billion

For more than 200 years, the venerable American clothier has been outfitting almost every U.S. president. The privately held company created its iconic Original Polo Button-Down Oxford shirt in 1900.

Source: Pablo Cuadra / Getty Images

19. Converse
> Founded: 1908
> Parent Company: Nike Inc.
> What it sells: Athletic footwear
> Stores worldwide: 172
> Revenue: $1.9 billion

Converse makes the Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers, iconic street footwear that’s been worn by ballers for decades. The company was founded in 1908 as a maker of galoshes and started making the sneakers that made the company famous in 1915.

Source: Sjo / Getty Images

18. Tommy Hilfiger
> Founded: 1985
> Parent Company: PVH Corporation
> What it sells: American-themed apparel, fragrances, eyewear
> Stores worldwide: 1,800+
> Revenue: $4.3 billion

Long before Tommy Hilfiger’s name became synonymous with red, white, and blue American style, the Elmira, New York, native started his retail career at age 18 selling jeans in high school. He opened a store with high school friends that was called the People’s Place.

Source: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

17. Kate Spade
> Founded: 1993
> Parent Company: Tapestry Inc.
> What it sells: Handbags, accessories, home decor
> Stores worldwide: 407
> Revenue: $1.36 billion

Kate Spade, a former accessories editor at Mademoiselle magazine, left the editorial side of fashion and went into retail by designing a handbag. Her creations combined utility and splashy colors. The product became an aspirational brand for young women climbing the corporate ladder.

Source: Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images

16. Calvin Klein
> Founded: 1968
> Parent Company: PVH Corporation
> What it sells: Clothes, accessories, home furnishings
> Stores worldwide: 4,115 (including distributor stores)
> Revenue: $3.7 billion

Calvin Klein was originally recognized for his suits and coats but branched out into sportswear. Ads for his products pushed boundaries, such as the jeans ad with a 15-year-old Brooke Shields, who said in a famous television commercial, “Do you know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.”

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images

15. Eddie Bauer
> Founded: 1920
> Parent Company: Golden Gate Capital (not publicly traded)
> What it sells: Outerwear
> Stores worldwide: 275+
> Revenue: $745 million

Outdoorsman Eddie Bauer opened his first sporting goods store in 1920 and in 1936 he created the “Skyliner,” a quilted goose down jacket that revolutionized outerwear.

Source: Pablo Cuadra / Getty Images

14. Vans
> Founded: 1966
> Parent Company: V.F. Corporation
> What it sells: Footwear, outerwear
> Stores worldwide: 1,151 parent company stores
> Revenue: $13.8 billion (parent company)

Vans was founded by brothers Paul and Jim Van Doren along with Gordon Lee and Serge Delia in Anaheim, California, and its sporty shoes have become favored by skateboarders because they are durable and have sticky soles.

Source: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

13. Under Armour
> Founded: 1996
> Parent Company: Under Armour Inc.
> What it sells: Performance apparel
> Stores worldwide: 179
> Revenue: $5.19 billion

The preferred undergarment for athletes had its origins with Kevin A. Plank, a former special teams captain of the University of Maryland football team. Plank grew tired of constantly changing the cotton T-shirt under his jersey as it became wet and heavy during the game. So he devised a garment that would remain drier and lighter and in the process created the performance apparel category.

Source: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

12. J.Crew
> Founded: 1983
> Parent Company: J.Crew Group Inc.
> What it sells: Upscale casual apparel
> Stores worldwide: 369
> Revenue: $1.77 billion

Jenna Lyons started at J. Crew in 1990 as an assistant designer in menswear after she graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York City and helped transform the company under the leadership of legendary merchant Mickey Drexler by creating colorful shoes, pencil skirts, and patterned fabrics.

Source: anouchka / Getty Images

11. Polo Ralph Lauren
> Founded: 1967
> Parent Company: Ralph Lauren Corporation
> What it sells: Country-club prep style clothes
> Stores worldwide: 510
> Revenue: $6.31 billion (parent company)

After a stint in the Army, Bronx-born Ralph Lauren (née Ralph Lifshitz) persuaded New York City clothier Beau Brummel to invest in wider neck ties in the late 1960s. The ties sold well and Lauren’s clothing empire had begun.

Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

10. Levi’s
> Founded: 1853
> Parent Company: Levi Strauss & Co.
> What it sells: Denim
> Stores worldwide: 854
> Revenue: $5.57 billion

Bavarian immigrant Levi Strauss invented work pants in the 19th century to outfit gold prospectors in California that would upend fashion.

Source: Tim Boyle / Getty Images

9. Abercrombie & Fitch
> Founded: 1892
> Parent Company: Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
> What it sells: Upscale casual apparel
> Stores worldwide: 315
> Revenue: $3.6 billion (parent company)

Abercrombie & Fitch has been outfitting America’s explorers, hunters, and campers since 1892, and among their customers were Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Amelia Earhart.

Source: Jason Merritt / Getty Images

8. Hollister
> Founded: 2000
> Parent Company: Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
> What it sells: Teen-focused apparel
> Stores worldwide: 542
> Revenue: $3.6 billion (parent company)

Teen fashion brand Hollister, also the name of a town in California, was founded in 2000 as part of the retail empire of Abercrombie & Fitch.

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

7. Nike
> Founded: 1964
> Parent Company: Nike Inc.
> What it sells: Athletic apparel, sneakers
> Stores worldwide: 951
> Revenue: $37.2 billion

Sportswear company Nike was originally called Blue Ribbon Sports and was a distributor for a Japanese shoemaker. The Beaverton, Oregon-based company with the famous swoosh symbol later took the name Nike, after the Greek goddess of victory, from a suggestion by an employee.

Source: Cate Gillon / Getty Images

6. Banana Republic
> Founded: 1978
> Parent Company: The Gap Inc.
> What it sells: Casual apparel
> Stores worldwide: 600
> Revenue: $16.6 billion (parent company)

The store with the safari theme was founded by a reporter and illustrator at the San Francisco Chronicle. They thought of the apparel theme while traveling in Australia and liked the utilitarian look of an old British Burma jacket they bought at a surplus store.

Source: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

5. Coach
> Founded: 1941
> Parent Company: Tapestry Inc.
> What it sells: Handbags, accessories
> Stores worldwide: 986
> Revenue: $4.27 billion

Miles and Lillian Cahn founded the company in a Manhattan loft in 1941 and made handbags and wallets based on the leather design aesthetic of baseball gloves.

Source: Tim Boyle / Getty Images

4. American Eagle Outfitters
> Founded: 1977
> Parent Company: American Eagle Outfitters Inc.
> What it sells: Denim, casual apparel
> Stores worldwide: 1,061
> Revenue: $4.03 billion

American Eagle Outfitters was founded in 1977 by brothers Jerry and Mark Silverman and offers a variety of apparel for men and women.

Source: Dimas Ardian / Getty Images

3. Gap
> Founded: 1969
> Parent Company: The Gap Inc.
> What it sells: Casual apparel aimed at youth
> Stores worldwide: 1,234
> Revenue: $16.6 billion (parent company)

Husband and wife Doris and Don Fisher opened the first casual clothing Gap store in 1969 in San Francisco because Don couldn’t find a pair of pants that fit. The name refers to the generation gap.

Source: tobiasjo / Getty Images

2. Victoria’s Secret
> Founded: 1977
> Parent Company: L Brands Inc.
> What it sells: Lingerie, undergarments
> Stores worldwide: 1,625
> Revenue: $13.2 billion (parent company)

The company was founded by Roy Raymond, a businessman who was too embarrassed to shop for underwear for his wife at a department store.

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

1. Old Navy
> Founded: 1994
> Parent Company: The Gap Inc.
> What it sells: Casual clothes
> Stores worldwide: 1,160
> Revenue: $16.6 billion (parent company)

The maker of jeans, hoodies, hats, tank tops, capris, and other apparel items was named after a bar in Paris.