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World's Most Desirable Luxury Brands

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No. 1:  Gucci-A Little History . . .

Guccio Gucci founded the House of Gucci as a saddlery shop in Florence in 1906. A century later, the company's horse bit and stirrup motif is an enduring symbol of luxury. He started out selling leather bags to horsemen in the 1920s and progressed to luxury luggage as his clients graduated from equine transportation to horseless carriages. Today, with Frida Giannini at the creative helm, handbags with the interlocking double-G logo are among the company's biggest money makers Ask a friend what he would buy if he had a bigger bank account and he might rattle off a list that includes a limited-edition sports car, a round-the-world trip or a million-dollar beachfront home. Goods by Gucci, however, top the lists of luxury brand lovers. That's according to an online survey conducted late last year by The Nielsen Company, a market research firm. It asked 25,000 consumers in 48 countries which luxury brand they would buy if money were no object. Besides Gucci, respondents chose Chanel, Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior (other-otc: CHDRF - news - people ). It's easy to see why Gucci reigns. Worldwide sales, though recently tapered, have jumped since Mark Lee became president of the company in 2004, then CEO the following year. In 2007, sales increased 11%; that's on top of a 17% increase in 2006 and a rise of 18.4% in 2005. Gucci is a part of the Gucci Group, which has a number of fashion brands in its portfolio, including Yves Saint Laurent and Sergio Rossi. PPR, a French holding company publicly traded on the Euronext exchange in Paris, owns the Gucci Group.
  • CEO Spotlight: Gucci
"Gucci manages to offer high fashion and very commercial items," says Michael Macko, fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue (nyse: SKS - news - people ). "That red and green stripe is some of the most iconic luxury branding ever created, and people want a piece of it."
  • Behind The Brands
Born as a leather goods company, Gucci is now most well known for its logo-ed handbags. When the company opened a new 46,000-square-foot store, the largest of its 233 worldwide, on the ground level of the Trump Tower on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue last month, they also launched a "Gucci Loves New York" handbag collection which sold out within two days of opening. Proceeds from the bags went to Playground Partners Central Park Improvement Program.
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What's Your Office Style? Chanel and Calvin Klein tied for second. The privately held Chanel, famous for the little black dress, tweed suit and quilted handbag, was founded by Coco Chanel in 1909 and is currently helmed by Karl Lagerfeld. It stays relevant thanks to a slew of consistently classic yet stylish products. The label's current must-haves include a quilted leather envelope clutch and a sleeveless embroidered cashmere dress with pink trim; its current pitch woman is Keira Knightley. Calvin Klein's global retail sales surged to $4.5 billion in 2006--that's an increase of 50% since Phillips Van Heusen acquired the company in 2003. It manages such reach thanks to its three labels: Calvin Klein Collection (designer apparel and accessories), ck Calvin Klein, (bridge apparel and accessories) and Calvin Klein (better apparel and accessories). Top looks for spring include slim trousers cut on the bias for men and a high-waisted white skirt suit for women.
  • Shopper Stats
When looking at who actually buys designer brands today, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong come out on top. Almost one-third of survey respondents living in these areas claimed to buy the brand with the iconic interlocking-G logo. Only 7% of North American shoppers polled buy Gucci products. While designer goods are certainly desirable in emerging markets, North America was the least interested in luxury brands, with 35% of respondents claiming they would not be tempted to buy even if money was not an issue. When quality comes into play, 34% of respondents in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America believe designer goods have the highest quality vs. non-designer; that figure falls to 20% for both Europe and North America. What would you buy if money were no object? Weigh in. Add your thoughts on our facebook page. "In emerging markets such as Latin America and the Asian Pacific, designer brands are probably more of a proclamation," says David Boyd, vice president of Nielsen Global Research, "a way to set themselves apart or feel that they've arrived as part of the new economy." Regional differences also emerge over counterfeit goods peddled at market stalls globally. Over a quarter of North Americans questioned believe that fakes are just as good as the real thing, but in Asia, where most of the fakes are produced, consumers hold them in low regard, with only 8% putting them on par with the genuine article. "People in Asia can pick out a fake bag like no one I've seen," says Boyd, "But in the U.S., people are less aware and less concerned, because in the U.S. luxury brands are considered more mainstream."

No. 1: Gucci-A Little History . . .

Guccio Gucci founded the House of Gucci as a saddlery shop in Florence in 1906. A century later, the company's horse bit and stirrup motif is an enduring symbol of luxury. He started out selling leather bags to horsemen in the 1920s and progressed to luxury luggage as his clients graduated from equine transportation to horseless carriages. Today, with Frida Giannini at the creative helm, handbags with the interlocking double-G logo are among the company's biggest money makers.

Next week we will be introducing you to a couple in Canada who purchased one of Archival Designs' luxury house plans and has been keeping a blog on the progress of their home build.  I'll be sharing their story and blog, and hope you'll be back here on Monday, April 16th.

Follow the link to view more photos of today's Archival Designs' luxury house plan, Chateaubriand, pictured below.

Choose From More Than 400 House Designs and House Plans We offer house designs in a wide range of styles and sizes. Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and Palladian homes, English Manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and Colonial house plans. Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 13,600 sf. Our Newport Classics house designs are gentrified New England-style cottages that range from 1500 to 5000 square feet. Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world. Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer. Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one plan could be just for you!

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  • Joanne Loftus
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