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The 14 Most Influential British Designers and Brands Shaping the Fashion World

CEO Tinh Phung
While European designers dominate the fashion industry, British designers have been making waves in recent years. With the royal seal of approval, many of these brands have become household names. Whatever your style is, there...

While European designers dominate the fashion industry, British designers have been making waves in recent years. With the royal seal of approval, many of these brands have become household names. Whatever your style is, there is a UK designer out there for you. In this article, we will highlight the fourteen most popular and influential British designers and brands that are shaping the fashion world today.

1. Alexander McQueen: The Trailblazing Icon of British Fashion

When it comes to modern British fashion brands, Alexander McQueen stands in a league of its own. The brand single-handedly brought skulls back into the mainstream. Founded in 1992, Alexander McQueen’s logo features a unique “Q” lettering with a small “c” inside. Nicknamed the ‘hooligan of fashion’, Alexander McQueen was famous for mixing structural silhouettes with delicate floral patterns and motifs. Before launching his eponymous brand, he worked as Creative Director at Givenchy. Some of his most recognizable pieces include the signature skull scarf, knuckle-ring clutch bag, and white sneakers. Alexander McQueen is distinctive for its innovative and uncompromising expression of unbridled creativity. The brand is a favorite amongst streetwear followers. After McQueen's passing, Sarah Burton was appointed Creative Director and has continued the brand's legacy. She famously designed the Duchess of Cambridge’s iconic wedding dress.

2. Vivienne Westwood: The Punk Fashion Revolutionary

Vivienne Westwood is not only known for her environmental activism but also for her eponymous fashion brand, which is one of the most popular British brands of its era. It was born during the height of the hippie movement in the 1970s. Instead of taking inspiration from the era, Westwood looked to the 1950s for her muse. She started making Teddy Boy clothes for Malcolm McLaren before opening her Kings Road store in 1971. Westwood’s first runway collection came in 1981, bringing the innovation and subtle historical nods for which the brand would become famous. The synonymous Westwood designs were born with a focus on signature British fabrics and elevated basics with a quirky twist. The modern Vivienne Westwood collections have a more androgynous flair, focusing on the natural dynamic of fabrics. Her brand is renowned for bringing punk into the mainstream of fashion and ushering in a new era for the industry. Must-have Westwood pieces include the pearl choker with a logo pendant, tartan bags, and checked ready-to-wear.

3. Stella McCartney: Champion of Sustainable Chic

Stella McCartney, daughter of Paul McCartney, is a British legend in her own right. Her focus on animal rights and sustainability can be seen throughout her eponymous fashion brand. Within two years of graduating from Central St Martins, Stella was appointed Creative Director of the legendary French fashion house Chloe. In 2001, she launched her self-titled fashion brand, showing her first collection in Paris. Her collections have never featured fur, leather, feathers, or skin. Sustainability has remained at the heart of every collection. Stella McCartney expanded to include a perfume range, an athleisure collaboration with Adidas, and a lingerie collection. The first iconic Stella McCartney bag, the Falabella, was unveiled in 2009. Stella McCartney was appointed the Creative Director for the Team GB uniform and clothing for the 2012 Olympics. She was the first fashion designer to design the apparel for a country’s team in every Olympic competition. McCartney has partnered with LVMH to develop her iconic British brand further.

4. Mulberry: The Epitome of British Elegance

When it comes to iconic British handbags, Mulberry is the go-to brand. Founded in 1971 by Roger Saul, the brand has collaborated with everyone from Lana Del Rey to Alexa Chung. Mulberry started with buckled leather belts before launching into a full accessory and womenswear line. The Mulberry aesthetic brings timeless silhouettes together with high-quality leather and a contemporary feel. The brand is quintessentially British, showcasing the ‘town and country’ aesthetic throughout British fashion. Mulberry describes itself as “heritage meets rebellion - rules are broken to make something new.” The brand has produced several ‘it’ bags, including the Bayswater, Lily, and Alexa bags, which have all become iconic styles. Mulberry is currently undergoing a brand identity change that keeps the British feel but brings the fashion house into the modern era. If you’re looking for a luxury handbag, Mulberry is the perfect choice of a UK brand.

5. Victoria Beckham: From Pop Star to Fashion Powerhouse

Victoria Beckham, the former Spice Girls member, has transitioned from pop star to fashion designer. Her eponymous fashion label was launched in 2008. The brand debuted with ten dresses, which became an instant success. Beckham easily translated her signature style into a brand aesthetic. The Victoria Beckham fashion house has expanded to include two ready-to-wear lines, accessories, and a collaboration with the activewear brand Reebok. The brand takes the personal style of Beckham and makes it work for the needs of the modern, international woman. Victoria Beckham can be found in over 450 stores in more than 50 countries around the world. Beckham has won several awards for her brand, including Best Designer Brand and Brand of the Year at the British Fashion Awards. Her fashion collections have provided that she’s more than just a WAG and former pop star. Since its launch, the brand has sculpted out a unique space for itself in the UK fashion scene.

6. Burberry: A Legacy of British Luxury

Burberry is a British brand with an unparalleled heritage. Founded in 1870 by Thomas Burberry, the brand originally sold a waterproof fabric called ‘gabardine’, primarily for making trench coats. Burberry received its royal warrant from the Queen in 1955, which represents the fact that the brand is worn by the Queen herself. Almost every member of the Royal Family has been spotted wearing a Burberry piece. The brand broke into the mainstream of fashion during the mid to late 20th century before undergoing a makeover when Christopher Bailey took over in 2001. In recent years, Burberry has been targeting a younger audience. The brand has become popular amongst British celebrities, including Emma Watson, who acted as a global ambassador for the brand. If you want to add some British luxury to your closet, you can’t go wrong with a signature check scarf or a beige trench coat.

7. Lulu Guinness: The Playful Side of British Fashion

Lulu Guinness is the British designer for those who love quirky and feminine designs. The brand is famous for its witty and playful handbags. Some of their most famous pieces include the lips clutch and florist basket, which are on permanent display in the V&A. The brand was started by Lulu Guinness in 1989 with an attached case with pockets to hold all your essentials. Lulu Guinness blends vintage inspiration with ladylike fashion and a playful tongue-in-cheek twist. The artistic spirit and quirky sense of fun have made Lulu Guinness one of the most beloved brands in Britain. Whether it’s a nod to the pub or the monarchy, a Lulu Guinness bag can be the perfect souvenir if you ever visit the UK.

8. Strathberry: The Rising Star of Royal Fashion

Strathberry is an up-and-coming British brand that has received the royal seal of approval from both Meghan Markle and the Duchess of Cambridge. This Edinburgh-based accessories brand was launched in 2013 by a husband-and-wife duo who aimed to create a truly luxury brand. Strathberry's famous structured bags have taken the fashion world by storm. Each Strathberry bag takes at least 20 hours to craft by hand, a testament to their dedication to luxury. The brand's aesthetic is contemporary and minimalistic, with accessories intended to be timeless and last a lifetime. Strathberry has seen incredible growth through collaborations with famous British fashion influencer InTheFrow and its royal patrons. Celebrities such as Katie Holmes, Lady Gaga, and Heidi Klum have been spotted wearing their bags.

9. Paul Smith: A Sartorial Blend of Classic and Quirky

Paul Smith is one of the most famous British tailors, known for his use of bright colors and inventive shirt designs. His brand has turned from a niche London brand into a global success story. Paul Smith is perfect for those who love elevated basics and classics with a quirky twist. The brand's aesthetic combines tradition with modernity, bringing the 'classic with a twist' into the mainstream. Paul Smith believes that "inspiration can be found in everything," and his designs reflect this philosophy. Paul Smith offers clothes, shoes, and accessories that capture the British sense of dry humor in a quirky yet elegant way.

10. JW Anderson: The Innovator of Modern British Style

JW Anderson is one of the few big-name designers from Northern Ireland. He is the founder of the eponymous brand, JW Anderson, and also serves as the Creative Director at Loewe. JW Anderson has received investment from LVMH and has collaborated with the high-street brand Topshop. Under Anderson's leadership, Loewe has transformed from a niche Spanish luxury brand to a mainstream label. JW Anderson designs everything from tops, dresses, and outerwear to bags, shoes, and accessories. His brand offers a more refined and modern look and has become a luxury fashion destination with gender-blurring aesthetics and a contemporary feel.

11. Antonio Berardi: The Maestro of Sensual Elegance

Antonio Berardi is a British-Sicilian designer known for his figure-hugging and sensual dresses. His eponymous fashion brand won the Harper’s Bazaar award for ‘Dress of the Year’ in 2009. Berardi is considered one of the greatest British designers, helping revive British fashion alongside other designers like Alexander McQueen. He takes inspiration from the world of arts and cinema, along with Italian art, Catholic symbolism, and feminine influences. Berardi's designs are sophisticated yet striking, focusing on contemporary fabrics and the latest manufacturing techniques. His celebrity clientele includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, and Jennifer Lawrence.

12. Alice Temperley: The Dream Weaver of Fashion

Alice Temperley is the founder of Temperley London, a brand that captures the heritage of English fashion. Established in 2000, the brand is known for its intricate detailing and luxurious fabrics. Temperley London encapsulates a unique idea of ‘British bohemianism’ with its lifestyle-driven fashion. American Vogue once named Temperley as the designer making the biggest waves in British fashion. The brand had its first fashion show in 2003 and has grown to become one of the most influential British designers of the last two decades. Temperley's celebrity clientele includes members of the royal family, such as the Duchess of Cambridge and her sister Pippa Middleton.

13. Christopher Kane: The Artisan of Avant-Garde Fashion

Scottish designer Christopher Kane is known for his eponymous brand, Christopher Kane. He won the ‘Lancome Colour Award’ in 2005 and has attracted the attention of some of the fashion world's most celebrated designers. Kane's work is characterized by creativity, sensuality, and wit. Every collection from Christopher Kane blends creativity with sensuality and wit in an unpredictable and provocative way. Kane's designs have been worn by celebrities such as Kylie Minogue and have been featured in prestigious publications like Vogue and Harper's Bazaar.

14. Paul Andrew: A Visionary in Contemporary Fashion

Paul Andrew emerged as a fashion powerhouse after honing his craft alongside Calvin Klein and Alexander McQueen. In 2013, he unveiled his eponymous luxury women's shoe line, which garnered critical acclaim and established him as a fresh, innovative force in fashion. Andrew has received several notable awards and accolades for his work, including the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and the British Fashion Award for Accessory Designer of the Year. He temporarily paused his namesake label to focus on his role as Creative Director at Salvatore Ferragamo. However, in February 2022, Paul Andrew relaunched his namesake brand, focusing on a few silhouettes that blend novelty and color with comfort and wearability.

These fourteen British designers and brands are shaping the fashion world today with their unique aesthetics and innovative designs. From iconic luxury brands to rising stars, the UK fashion industry continues to push boundaries and make a significant impact on the global stage.