Nike ranked as the world’s most valuable apparel brand for the ninth consecutive year, according to Brand Finance’s 2023 Annual Apparel 50 Report.  Other brands in the active lifestyle space that made the Top 50 included Adidas, at #5; Lululemon, #16; Puma, #19; Anta, #26; Under Armour, #27; The North Face, #28; Moncler, #29; Skechers, #32; Fila, #34; Li Ning, #42; and New Balance, #50.

Brand Finance, a brand valuation consultancy based in London, defines brand value as the net economic benefit an owner would achieve by licensing its brand in the open market. Overall, the Top 10 apparel brands based on value were Nike, with a valuation of $31.3 billion; Louis Vuitton, $26.3 billion; Chanel, $19.4 billion; Gucci, $17.8 billion; Adidas, $15.7 billion; Hermes, $14.2 billion; Dior, $13.2 billion; Cartier, $12.5 billion; Zara, $11.0 billion; and Rolex, $10.7 billion.

Brand Finance also looked at brand strength, calculated through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity and business performance. The Top 10 apparel brands ranked by brand strength were Rolex, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermes, Tiffany, Adidas, Nike, Saint Laurent, and Chanel.

Nike’s brand value was down 6 percent to $31.3 billion. Brand Finance said Nike’s decline was driven by slower revenue growth than in 2022, notably in China. That said, Nike saw strong sales in the U.S. and Europe and retains the brand strength needed to rebound in brand value. 

“Nike’s enduring success can be largely attributed to the global familiarity of its iconic brand narrative and vision,” said Annie Brown, managing director of Brand Finance U.K., in the report. “From its relentless commitment to innovation, its ability to stay ahead of market trends and its extensive partnerships with athletes around the world, Nike has firmly cemented its place at the top of the apparel industry. In 2023, the brand continues to leverage its enormous global influence and reputation to drive positive change in the world of sports and beyond.”

Brand Finance said Nike continues to score high on innovation, including integrating technology into its standalone stores and opening more Nike Live concept stores with digital and interactive features designed to enhance the customer shopping experience.

“Nike has significantly grown its direct-to-consumer e-commerce sales since 2017, helping the brand to more closely control customer experience, reduce its reliance on physical distribution and leverage the brand’s appeal and customer loyalty to convert sales,” according to Brand Finance. “Nike also continues to champion innovation through its product ranges. This year, Nike unveiled its new line of Women’s National Team Kits, containing materials designed to enhance female performance in the sport. Set to bolster its positive global reputation further, the launch serves as a celebration of Nike’s partnership with more female football federations qualifying for the 2023 summer’s tournament than any other brand.”

Nike also had the highest Sustainability Perception Value among fashion brands in 2023. Brand Finance highlighted Nike’s “Move to Zero” sustainability campaign and the company’s efforts to involve its pro-athlete ambassadors in its sustainability push. Brand Finance noted in the study that “The brand continues to leverage its enormous global influence to promote ESG practices across the company, supporting its mission to ‘advance the world’ through sport and power positive change for communities around the planet.”

Brand Finance’s findings “indicate that consumer demand for sports apparel and athleisurewear remains high.”

For the second consecutive year, Adidas ranked 5th most valuable apparel brand and saw its brand value climb 7 percent to $15.7 billion. Brand Finance said Adidas “has continued to expand its innovative product range in 2023, while new CEO for 2023, Bjørn Gulden, aims to go further to boost growth by catering products and marketing to local markets.”

Lululemon’s brand valuation increased 30 percent to $5.5 billion, and its rank improved to 16 from 21 in Brand Finance’s 2022 Apparel 50 report. Brand Finance said Lululemon is “continuing to promote product innovation, consumer experience and market expansion as key drivers of brand success and revenue growth.”

Under Armour’s brand valuation recovered after a challenging year, improving 6 percent to $3.7 billion, and was attributed to global expansion. Brand Finance said Under Armour “has ambitions to grow rapidly via new stores in key UK cities which offer innovative features and an elevated customer experience.” Under Armour’s ranking among apparel companies improved to 27 from 30 the prior year.

Entering the Top 50 this year, New Balance’s brand valuation was up 11 percent to $1.8 billion. Brand Finance said the Boston-based brand “has become increasingly popular across the globe, benefitting from its presence in the lifestyle market, trends like the popularity of ‘Dad Shoes,’ and an enduring commitment to the performance and quality of its products.”

Bosideng, China’s largest down-clothing brand, saw its brand valuation climb 12 percent to $1.9 billion, with its ranking improving to 47 from 48 the year before. Brand Finance said Bosideng “has successfully overcome the usual challenges that Chinese brands face in the global market, connecting with consumers and establishing itself as a distinctive player. Bosideng’s ability to penetrate the Western market while showcasing its Chinese heritage has reinforced its success and the strength of its brand this year.”

Bosideng has opened more stores in Europe, collaborated with renowned designers, such as the former creative director of Hermès, Jean Paul Gaultier, and has participated in international fashion shows to enhance its global brand profile.

Among other brands in the active lifestyle space, those showing improvement in rankings included Skechers, which landed as the 32nd most-valuable apparel brand, improving from 34 in 2022. China-based Li Ning was 42, improving from 44 the prior year.

Among active lifestyle brands that saw a decline in Brand Finance’s Apparel 50 rankings were The North Face, at #28, down from #20 in 2022; Moncler, #26 against #29; Anta, #17 versus #26; and Fila, #28 against #34. Puma ranked as the 19th most valuable apparel brand, the same as in 2022.

Among luxury brands, Celine (brand value surging 69 percent to €2.8 billion) was the fastest-growing brand in the Top 50, with the French fashion house seeing notable growth under the creative direction of Hedi Slimane, appointed to the brand in 2018.

Several iconic luxury brands saw strong gains in valuation, including Dior (brand value increased by 63 percent to €12.7 billion), Louis Vuitton (brand value increased by 25 percent to €25.3 billion) and Chanel (brand value increased by 42 percent to €18.7 billion), despite challenges that include shifts to e-commerce and social media as well as trends favoring streetwear and athleisure styles. Brand Finance said Dior, Louis Vuitton and Chanel “have prospered thanks to promising sales growth and the enduring strength of their brands, maintaining their iconic status in the world post-pandemic.”

As sustainability becomes an increasingly important choice factor among clothing brands, fast fashion retailers such as H&M (brand value dropped 17 percent to €9.1 billion, and Zara ( brand value fell 5 percent, to €10.6 billion) “are seeing their strengths and reputation diminished.”

To read Brand Finance’s 2023 Annual Apparel 50 Report, go here.

Photo courtesy Nike