The 14 Most Popular Designer Brands of 2020

As I sit here trying to write about luxury fashion in the middle of a global pandemic and unthinkable economic crisis, I’m struggling with a bit of writer’s block. With shopping out of the question for so many people around the world these days, talking about high-end designers can feel odd, but as a fashion website, it’s our duty to keep you well informed about a wide variety of brands, including designer ones. 

Now that we’re about eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic, some shopping habits have emerged that are indicative of people’s mindsets right now. For many, sustainability and thoughtful purchases of items that have longevity have been prioritized over buying lots of pieces you may not even wear more than once—especially since most of us are going fewer places than we used to. So if your budget allows for it, shopping for long-lasting luxury these days is wise. But luxury shopping, in particular, calls for some research.

Whether you’re in the market to buy a designer piece or are just intrigued by which brands and items are gaining the most attention these days, we’ve done the hard work for you. To narrow the following list down to the 14 buzziest brands on the scene in 2020, we gathered data on Who What Wear readers’ purchases and product clicks, on-site brand searches, and social media engagement via our 3.4 million Instagram followers. Keep scrolling to find out the best use of your wardrobe budget this year (if you’re seeking out an investment purchase).

Among the most popular high-end brands this year, there are several of the usual suspects (would it even be a luxury report without Chanel?) as well as some exciting newcomers such as Christopher Esber, which is all over our Instagram feeds, and Christopher John Rogers, which would be all over the red carpet if red carpets were a thing right now. Either way, they all have one thing in common: everyone wants them in their closet right now.

Of the buzziest brands of 2020, it was Prada that saw the most dramatic growth in interest (84% over last year, to be exact), and is among our top-saved social media posts. Of particular interest for our readers have been the more accessible, everyday items and specifically, the brand’s wildly popular platform loafers.

Pictured: Prada Re-Nylon Gabardine Bralette Top ($695)

Following 2019’s Bottega Veneta craze, the brand has remained at the top of shopper’s wish lists and is one of our top five most searched brands of the year. Not surprisingly, of particular interest are the bags and shoes.

Pictured: Bottega Veneta Cassette Bag ($2800) and Tire Boots ($1150)

Last year’s MVP Chanel is holding strong, as expected. It continues to be one of our top-engaged luxury brands on social. This year, we saw the most engagement for Chanel accessories, which are a little more attainable than the bags and clothing.

Pictured: Chanel shirt and shoes

One look at our readers’ most-purchased luxury products, and it’s clear: Gucci shoes and accessories remain at the top of the most-wanted investment buys this year.

Pictured: Gucci Jackie 1961 Small Hobo Bag ($1980)

A perennial Who What Wear editor favorite, Loewe makes some of the most highly coveted, timeless pieces on the market. It shows no signs of fading as is ever-present in my Instagram feed.

Pictured: Loewe Puzzle Bag ($2500)

Thanks to the many celebrities who are forever loyal to Hermès, on-site searches for the brand are up by 38% this year. As long as Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian West remain devotees, the interest will remain high.

Pictured: Hermès bag

Another celebrity-favored brand, Versace searches are also up significantly this year. That famous palm print and the popularity of all things ’80s in fashion may have something to do with it.

Pictured: Versace shorts

Christopher John Rogers has had a banner year. After winning the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award last November and pulling off one of the most highly praised collections of the F/W 20 season, we’re sure that his designs would’ve been all over the red carpet this year. Proof: Zendaya’s jaw-dropping Emmys look.

Pictured: Christopher John Rogers dress

Fans of Khaite’s wearable designs are plentiful, with the brand’s sweaters, denim, and shoes drawing the most interest among our readers. She started the sweater set trend that every brand has gotten in on, and will continue to set trends with her directional eye for seasons to come.

Pictured: Khaite Scarlet Cashmere Cardigan ($1540) and Eda Cashmere Soft-Cup Bra ($520)

When even Beyoncé counts herself as a fan of Marine Serre’s unmistakable moon print, you know it’s gone beyond just viral. The sustainable brand’s now-iconic printed wares and all of her slightly futuristic, slightly athletic pieces have become synonymous with fashion in 2020.

Pictured: Marine Serre jacket and jeans

Christopher Esber’s take on cool-girl glamour has captured the attention of all the cool girls on Instagram. His brand of minimalism-with-a-twist will always be relevant.

Pictured: Christopher Esber top

Fine jewelry has been a surprisingly hot item this year, as people are seeking pieces with longevity that they don’t have to wait to have somewhere to wear them to. In particular, sculptural earrings and simple necklaces have garnered lots of attention during this new era (shout out to Zoom). Mateo is a brand that counts Zendaya as one of its many celebrity fans and that can be found on a slew of major retailers (i.e. Net-a-Porter and Shopbop) now.

Pictured: Mateo Initial 14-Karat Gold Diamond Necklace ($595)

Although it may not be a luxury brand in the vein of Bottega Veneta, I thought it was important to feature a more attainable brand (that’s also wildly popular) in this year’s report. Aside from countless celebrities wearing the brand this year, it released two wildly popular collaborations with New Balance.

Pictured: New Balance x Staud Long Sleeve Performance Top ($95) and Track Pants ($120)

Sweden-based Totême’s rise to fame can likely be attributed to the seasonless nature of its chic, minimalist pieces. The brand is adored by influencers and celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Rosie Huntington-Whitely, and our readers are particularly keen on its dresses.

Pictured: Totême sweater

Now that we’re all well-versed in the brands that have captured everyone’s attention as of late, let’s discuss the specific luxury items that shoppers are prioritizing. Practicality is more important than ever right now, and the list above further drives that point home. 

Our data shows that accessories, jewelry, and basics that can be worn often are holding the majority of the It-item spots. With fewer places to go this year, our wardrobe needs are narrower, but people clearly want to invest in things they’ll continue to want to wear post-pandemic but that are comfortable and easygoing enough to wear now.

Next up, a few more investment-worthy pieces with serious longevity: 10 fashion items that have had cult-favorite status for years.