Italy’s importance in the history of fashion truly cannot be understated. You would have to have lived under a rock your entire life not to be even vaguely familiar with the broad lineage of Italian brands, designers, fashion houses and high-end labels that have each contributed to the shape of style today.
What’s more, the story goes beyond the Italian brands themselves. Even in the 21st century, Italian manufacturing continues to be revered as some of the highest quality in the world, with countless family-owned businesses producing garments for brands including Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Paul Smith and a long list of others. Put simply, fashion runs through the Italian blood.
That being said, the sheer scope of the topic, combined with the mythology surrounding many of its most famous players, has created a world that often feels impossible to grasp from the outside. Perhaps you know the names, but not their stories; or maybe you’re familiar with iconic designs but don’t know where they fit in the bigger picture.
Whatever your level of knowledge, there are probably dozens of elements to your style of dress that lead, one way or another, back to the Italian fashion houses. With that in mind, here’s a comprehensive guide to the essential Italian brands and how each of them made their names: