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Nike Leads Apparel Brands in Value, But This One’s Growing the Fastest

Nike cemented its position as the world’s most valuable apparel brand, according to the latest Apparel 50 report from Brand Finance, though Japanese clothing purveyor Uniqlo clocked the fastest year-on-year growth.

Surging 16 percent over the past year, Nike’s value of $32.4 billion is squarely ahead of Adidas’s $16.7 billion brand value, which grew 17 percent over the same timeframe and earned the German firm the No. 3 spot versus No. 4 last year. Nike’s iconic and controversial campaign featuring polarizing athlete Colin Kaepernick contributed to the company’s growth. However, the Feb. 21 PR disaster involving Zion Williamson’s shoe blowout in a primetime game where resale tickets averaged $3,296—i.e., higher than Super Bowl passes—initially saw Nike shares fall 1.4 percent.

That debacle isn’t expected to hurt Nike in the long run, mostly because people like the values the Oregon athletic apparel giant represents. “In a time when customers look for experiences and emotional connection, Nike’s offering comes with unambiguous messages and values that people can rally behind,” Brand Finance managing director Richard Haigh wrote in the report.

Inditex-owned Zara moved up to claim the No. 2 spot, with brand value of $18.4 billion, at the expense of H&M, which dropped 16 percent in value to the No. 4 spot. H&M’s value shrank from $18.9 billion in 2018 to $15.8 billion this year as it has struggled with inventory and store closures.

Though Nike sits atop the brand value food chain, Brand Finance says Uniqlo showed the most notable growth—48 percent year on year, thanks to its global expansion and tie-up with Swiss tennis superstar Roger Federer. Brand Finance credits an efficient supply chain and innovative high-quality, low-cost clothing for Uniqlo’s additional $12 billion in brand value. The Japanese firm earned the No. 7 spot among the top 10, an increase from No. 7 last year.

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The real story, perhaps, is luxury’s dominance when it comes to brand value. Not only did five high-end firms crack the top 10—Cartier (No. 5), Louis Vuitton (6), Hermes (No. 8), Gucci (No. 9) and Rolex (No. 10)—but luxury also featured heavily in Brand Finance’s ranking of the strongest brands. In that breakout, Rolex led with a perfect AAA+ rating, followed by Prada (No. 3), Gucci (No. 4), Hermes (No. 6), Louis Vuitton (No. 7), Bershka (No. 8), Coach (No. 9) and Bottega Veneta (No. 10).

Store closures paint one picture of the retail sector but Haigh said apparel “continues to thrive.” “Brand value growth has been particularly strong among brands aware that consumers who shop both in-store and online spend significantly more than those who buy in bricks-and-mortar boutiques alone,” he noted. “It pays to create a robust omnichannel shopping experience for clients.

“Collaboration with celebrities, the digital age, and an ability to feed fast-fashion habits whilst being ethically aware will continue to benefit brand value,” Haigh said.