House of Worth, the First Fashion Brand

House of Worth, the First Fashion Brand

Charles F. Worth

Charles Frederick Worth was a British designer who conquered the French fashion scene in the late 19th century.  Fashion was not invented by Worth, it had existed for a long time, with many skilled dressmakers. Worth, however, invented the first fashion brand. He is also considered the father of haute couture. Born in England in 1825, Worth soon realized he would have to make his own living, as his father went bankrupt. He began working in a mercery, where he gained knowledge about fabrics. Due to the influence of Beau Brummell, tailors known for perfectly tailored suits, Worth went on to be known for being insistent on tailoring the perfect fit, even though he switched to women’s fashion.

first fashion brand

How was the first fashion brand built?

Worth took by storm the French fashion scene with his knack for reviving old elements by adding a personal twist. He would spend his time in art galleries, getting inspired. More often than not, Worth’s designs had period elements that made the gowns attractive.  He was employed at the firm of Gagelin, which he later left and started his own business with the aid of financial partner, Otto Bobergh. Thus, Worth et Bobergh was born.

However, Worth was aware that in order to attract the patronage of wealthy clients, he would have to set himself apart from the crowd. In a way, we can say that Worth had a grasp on the importance of what we now call a brand.  How did he create the first fashion brand in history? He cultivated Princess Pauline von Metternich,  the wife of  the Austrian ambassador in France, as a client. He did so in order to reach Empress Eugene, whose friend Pauline was. His design was shortly after discovered by the Empress and Worth became one of her dressmakers. But this was only the beginning for what would become the first fashion brand.  House of Worth  attracted clients not only from France, but from the entire European continent, as well as from the USA.

With a combination of aggressive self-promotion and fabulous designs, House of Worth became the first fashion brand in history. The brand was continued by his two sons, and flourished until 1952, when Worth’s great-grandson retired from the family business.In 1999, the brand was revived by a couple of antrepreneurs.

Did you know that House of Worth was the first fashion brand?

References: metmuseum.org,  thefashionhistorian.com

Photos: thefashionhistorian.com

 

Remi Koene
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