Is Valentino by Mario Valentino a Luxury Brand

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I am in the Brown Girls in Luxury Facebook group and there is a heated debate every other day about whether Valentino by Mario Valentino is a luxury brand.

Mario Valentino doesn’t have the fame of the well-known designer brand, Valentino Garavani, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a luxury brand.  According to many consumers, Valentino by Mario is not a luxury brand but a knock-off brand with made poor-quality leather.

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Before you book your trip to Rome or the Amalfi Coast in hopes of purchasing authentic Italian leather goods you might be want to make sure you understand the difference between Mario and Garavani.

The two may be similar in name, but that’s where their similarities end. Let’s take a look at how they are different, starting with their founders and working our way down to their products themselves.

The debate between Valentino Garavani and Mario Valentino has been raging for many years, but most people aren’t aware of the actual facts.

Here we’ll examine the similarities and differences of these two fashion brands, as well as whether or not Mario Valentino can be considered a luxury brand like Valentino Garavani.

In the fashion world, Mario Valentino probably is not considered a luxury brand but more of a knock-off of the Valentino Garavani. 

While Mario Valentino’s prices are not inexpensive it isn’t considered a luxury brand or maybe that depends on whom you ask.

For the past two years, the two Valentinos have been in a legal battle when Valentino filed suit, arguing that Mario Valentino (“MV”) is blatantly breaching the co-existence agreement that the two brands entered into in 1979 in an effort to avoid legal complications stemming from their nearly-identical names and similar offerings.  



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Who is Mario Valentino?

Mario was born in Naples, to a father who owned a luxury shoe line. He apprenticed under his father, learning the tools of the trade that would serve as a background for his legacy.

After finding his father’s shoe designs a bit too serious and old-fashioned for his liking, Valentino began to work with leather in ways to better conform to his own personal style.

The Mario Valentino brand was launched in 1952, using his father’s shoe-making atelier as a starting point, which had already seen considerable success.

Valentino’s unique, high-quality leather shoes, often personalized to the buyer’s liking, were some of his first productions, and they caught the eyes of many of his future loyal customers.

He was the creator of the women’s “spiked-heel” design and the inventor of the common woman’s moccasin. However, it was his Coral Sandals that proved to be his company’s first “diamond” that would propel his company to international fame, after the design caught the attention of the I. Miller company, a United States luxury shoe giant, who offered the young Valentino a lucrative business opportunity.

Though he refused to leave to go work in Naples, his popularity by that time was assured. He stayed in his small fashion atelier in the district of Le Fontanelle, where Valentino’s headquarters still remain to this day.

His leatherwork has been noted to be inspired by paintings, and many of his lines take after modern artists such as Andy Warhol. His creations are worn by worldwide celebrities, such as Jacquelyn Kennedy Onassis, Liz Taylor, and Monica Vitti.

Valentino’s house has also seen success through collaboration. He has worked with the likes of Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, and Karl Lagerfield to create high-quality haute couture ensembles that are no longer concerned with clothing only the women’s foot, but her entire body as well.

Now, his company creates skirts and belts, nightgowns, perfume, bags, luggage, and other accessories, no longer limited to his humble beginnings as a dedicated shoemaker.

After Mario Valentino’s death in 1991, Vincenzo Valentino, his son, now runs the critically acclaimed fashion house.


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Who is Valentino Garavani

Valentino Garavani was born on May 11, 1932, in Lombardy, Northern Italy. He adored fashion from a young age and especially delighted in attending the theatre and opera to see the opulent costumes.

Garavani completed his formal training in Paris at École des Beaux-Arts and the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, while also apprenticing under local designers that included his aunt Rosa and the salons of Jean Dessès and Guy Laroche.

After completing his education, Valentino returned to Italy to start his own line in Rome, in 1959. The following year, he met Giancarlo Giammetti in Rome.

Valentino and Giammetti quickly became partners both romantically and professionally, and together they developed Valentino SpA into an internationally recognized brand that launched in 1962 at the Pitti Palace in Florence.

This show would cement Valentino’s reputation as one of the True Fashionista designers of his day. Soon enough, socialites and aristocratic women from around the world were coming to him for his captivating and intricately detailed gowns and sensational couture creations.


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A post shared by Valentino (@maisonvalentino)

Will the Real Valentino Stand up

Remember, Mario Valentino launched in 1952 and Garavani Valentino launched in 1962, and this is where the feud between the two Valentino’s began.

In the early 1970’s they became aware of the existence of the other and in 1979 they signed the global co-existence agreement at that time Valentino Garavani’s brand was better far known for couture than handbags.

Valentino and Mario Valentino agreed that Mario Valentino was permitted to “use and register the full name Mario Valentino or M. Valentino or Valentino or the letters MV or V exclusively on the outside, together with Mario Valentino on the inside and on the packaging [of] all goods made of leather or imitation leather or other material.”

The same agreement limits Mario Valentino’s use, blocking the brand from using “the ‘V’ and ‘Valentino’ marks together” on those same types of goods.” 

Put simply, Mario Valentino – which argues that it began using the Valentino name on leather goods years before its younger rival – can use the “Valentino” name on leather goods, such as handbags, assuming it includes the full “Mario Valentino” name on the inside of the product.

Even though Mario Valentino started his fashion brand first Valentino Garavani experienced greater success and was seen as a staple in the fashion industry.

The relationship between both Valentino’s was no longer amicable and The Global Existence Agreement that was signed in 1979 was in jeopardy.

Garavani felt as if Mario Valentino was deliberately trying to confuse consumers between the two brands.

For almost 40 years, both fashion brands managed to co-exist without any legal matters but that all changed in 2019 when both brands faced off before a court in Milan.

The issue is the contents of their 40-year-old co-existence agreement, as well as some of the specific handbag designs that Mario Valentino was selling.

Mario Valentino has been accused of actively engaging in a campaign to trade-off Valentino’s goodwill in the United States handbag market. 

Valentino emphasized that Mario Valentino was deliberately trying to hide the fact that their bags are licensed by Mario Valentino and Valentino. Not stopping at this, they have also been accused of selling lookalike bags that infringe its design patent-protected bags. 

In this case, Mario Valentino maintains that it is Valentino that has engaged in unethical acts by violating their co-existence agreement. For instance, the co-existence agreement requires that “in any advertising for its leather handbags,” among other similar goods, Valentino “may only use its symbol and/or ‘VALENTINO GARAVANI,’ and therefore, must utilize the term ‘GARAVANI’ in addition to ‘VALENTINO’ to minimize consumer confusion between the parties.” 

Fast forward to the summer of 2019, the Court of Milan ruled that Mario Valentino failed to abide by the parties’ legally binding contract of co-existence.

The court explicitly prohibited Mario Valentino from using the marks in any way other than what the agreement prescribed. 

The battle between the two luxury brands is still on and the lawsuit is also pending in the USA. It has been revealed in a report that attorneys for both brands have filed a pleading. It states that attempts to settle have not led to an out-of-court settlement.

Which luxury brand is better?

Even though they’re both Italian fashion houses, they’re quite different. In fact, they don’t compete in many categories.

Though they specialize in similar clothing types, what sets them apart from each other is their history and how long they’ve been around so while I believe both brands are luxury I am in the minority.  Most people believe Mario is not a luxury brand but a rip-off.

I say buy what you like who cares what the fashion blogs say because that is just what I have done.  I have pieces from both Mario Valentino and Garavani Valentino and I purchased things that I like not because one was more expensive than the other.

In other words “Do You”

Is Valentino by Mario Valentino a Luxury Brand

First, you have to define the difference between luxury and premium; Luxury is the concern of brands such a Cartier and Hermes, the couture collection of designers making clothes that serve no purpose other than to look stunning (and perhaps to wear to a Hollywood acceptance speech or attend a royal wedding). 

While we wouldn’t go so far as to brand Mario Valentino a luxury brand, it certainly can be classified as a fashion label and it markets itself as both an affordable and luxury fashion line.

Mario Valentino falls into the premium brand category with the likes of DKNY Clothes and accessories that are very well made and that look and feel great; His designs knock on the door of luxury brands but don’t quite make the cut to be considered a luxury brand.

It’s easy to see how these two brands may be confused—they have both been around for a long time and they have similar styles.

And it should come as no surprise that customers often get these designers mixed up when shopping so I wanted to clear up any confusion and explain the difference between the two Valentino’s.  

Purchase on Amazon for $467.00

Mario Valentino

Price difference Between Mario Valentino and Garavani Valentino

I know you have seen the “Valentino” bags at off-price outlets, Saks Off 5th, Nordstrom Rack, LastCall by Neiman Marcus or Gilt.com, or Ruelala.

They bear the Valentino logo and retail for (actually, you never see them selling at retail) somewhere around 60%-70% off $1,000. Then when you look closer, you start to notice “Mario Valentino” somewhat fine printed at the bottom of a tag or on the interior plaque.

Valentino Garavani is a luxury, coveted label with prices starting around $1000 and rising up to as much as $30K for exclusive couture pieces. Its designs are unique and signature and can be easily spotted across the room.

Price on Amazon for $2999.00

Garvanai Valentino



Would I Purchase Valentino by Mario Valentino 

Fashion bloggers and luxury shoppers would be horrified if they saw you wearing Valentino by Mario Valentino but I have purchased both brands and love them both equally

I love my Valentino by Mario slides for lounging around the pool and taking photos. Mario Valentino is still an excellent high-end luxury brand.

Mario Valentino also makes quality accessories for bargain prices while some people think Mario Valentino is just a gimmick with no real value I completely disagree and think you can spend your money how you see it on whatever you want.  

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Have you purchased Mario Valentino or Garavani Valentino and do you consider Mario Valentino a luxury brand?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the ongoing legal battle between the two Valentino’s so leave me a comment on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.


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  1. I recently purchased Mario Valentino’s Sephora Monogram shoulder bag in lavender. With tax, it cost approximately 500.00 dollars
    and I love it. I do not care if it is luxury or not, it appeals to me. Actually, I do not see the point in purchasing purses, shoes or hats that scream, I AM RICH, unless you are the queen or the 1st Lady or a popular celebrity, what is the point?

  2. I recently purchased Mario Valentino’s Sephora Monogram shoulder bag in lavender. With tax, it cost approximately 500.00 dollars
    and I love it. I do not care if it is luxury or not, it appeals to me. Actually, I do not see the point in purchasing purses, shoes or hats that scream, I AM RICH, unless you are the queen or the 1st Lady or a popular celebrity, what is the point?

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