TOP TEN IN
01 / Burberry »
For breathing new life into a luxury stronghold. Burberry has not only emerged as one of the best-designed and most successful luxury brands, but also the most technologically advanced. Last year, the fashion house live-streamed its runway show in 3-D and offered an unprecedented 72-hour presale to consumers worldwide.
02 / Opening Ceremony »
For building a global brand that still feels exclusive. Opening Ceremony continued its takeover of all things hip in 2010 when it opened a second New York location at the Ace Hotel (shops also exist in Tokyo and Los Angeles). Founders Humberto Leon and Carol Lim are also responsible for moving popular brands to the U.S. market, including Havaianas, Acne, and Topshop, as well as becoming an authority on design collaborations, working with designers and creatives from Levi's to Chloe Sevigny to Spike Jonze.
For being the Netflix for dresses (and handbags and accessories). In just a year, its website has attracted 750,000 members (adding 20,000 a week) and built personal relationships with more than 100 designer brands, including Proenza Schouler, Nina Ricci, and Alice+Olivia, offering dresses to fashion-obsessed consumers nationwide—a four day rental costs just 10% of the retail cost. The company's revenue for 2010 is estimated at $6 million, and is expected to grow to more than $20 million in 2011.
04 / J.Crew
For redefining affordable American style. Following the successful openings of The Liquor Store and The Men's Shop in New York (which feature limited-edition items like Red Wing boots, Thomas Mason shirts, vintage finds such as Timex watches, and a suiting shop), the company has continued to spread its message with a series of specialty boutiques. Last summer, the company launched the much anticipated e-commerce site for women's brand Madewell, and in September it debuted an innovative and risky online outlet store—open only on the weekends—complete with chat-ready personal shoppers.
05 / Createthe Group
For being the behind-the-scenes player helping such luxury brands as Stella McCartney, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Tory Burch, and many others to create a strong online presence. Fusing a strong tech team with a passionate creative team, the company offers e-commerce solutions and original advertising campaigns. CreateThe Group's work has resulted in a 30% increase in online sales for David Yurman, tripled repeat visitors to Juicy Couture's website (and created a company-specific social network), and doubled traffic to Oscar de La Renta's site.
06 / IMG
For being the power broker behind nearly every Fashion Week worldwide. New York Fashion Week, for example, is responsible for bringing $770 million worth of economic activity to the Big Apple, and IMG successfully upgraded the event in 2010 by moving it to Lincoln Center and adding digital invitations and check-ins, better accessibility for attendees, improved design of the runway theaters to offer advanced production capabilities, and a presentation space to attract more up-and-coming designers.
07 / 3.1 Phillip Lim
For its nimbleness in the burgeoning Asian market, both on the manufacturing end and in sales. The brand, led by Lim and CEO Wen Zhou—both of whom are Chinese—celebrated its fifth anniversary in October with a runway show on Beijing's Forbidden City Wall. Featuring all Asian models, it was the first time an international designer of Lim's generation ever showed in the country.
08 / Forever 21
For giving the low-price chain a high-end sensibility. Sisters Linda and Esther Chang (28 and 23, respectively), daughters of the founders, have used their perch running the marketing and visual departments to make changes such as merchandising departments based on trend. Thanks to their input, the company made some of its biggest moves in 2010, including a maternity and plus-size line for the now $2 billion company.
09 / Monique Péan
For being an eco-friendly jewelry designer. Pean, a 2009 CFDA Fashion Fund winner, handcrafts pieces from materials such as farmed pearls and beads made of recycled crushed oyster shells, buffalo horn, woolly mammoth tusk and walrus ivory (all of which are fossilized and obtained through naturally melting glaciers).
10 / QVC
For becoming so much more than television trunk shows. The $7.4 billion retailer has become a multiplatform company, with one-third of all sales done through its website. By teaming with high-profile celebrities including Rachel Zoe, the Kardashian sisters, and Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant, QVC is reaching a younger and more tech-savvy audience.