Fashion has been one of the most profitable businesses in history ever since clothing and accessories became a sign of status in our society. And it has only become more profitable since with today’s fashion industry being worth trillions of dollars across the world. Many people may be able to spot a company’s name or logo, but not everyone is familiar with the person behind it or who benefits the most from buying a new piece of clothing. These are the people who make the fashion world turn.
Laurence Graff – $4.70 Billion
Laurence Graff a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a billionaire, jeweler, and businessman, best known as the founder of Graff Diamonds. He began his apprenticeship as a jeweler when he was just 15, and after the shop went out of business, began selling jewelry designs on his own throughout England.
He went on to create Graff Diamonds in 1960 and has since expanded his company which now has more than 35 shops in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States.
Chip Wilson – $5.41 Billion
Born in 1956, Dennis J. “Chip” Wilson is a Canadian philanthropist and billionaire. Over his career, Wilson has started several successful retail companies. However, his most notable has been the yoga-inspired athletic apparel company Lululemon Athletica Inc.
In recent years, the company has boomed in popularity, making Wilson renowned as one of the initial creators of the athleisure trend. After the company’s boom, Wilson put all of his personal and business interests into the holding company Hold It All Inc.
Ding Shijia – $6.14 Billion
Ding Shijia is the Vice President and Deputy Chairman of Anta Sports Products Ltd. Shijia is primarily responsible for control over Anta Group’s footwear portion of the company.
Joining the company in 1992, over the years, he worked his way up the chain and proved himself to be a valuable asset to the brand. In both 2002 and 2004, he was awarded the title of Eminent Young Entrepreneur of Quanzhou, an impressive accomplishment.
Giorgio Armani – $6.25 Billion
An Italian designer, Giorgio Armani began his career working for Cerruti before others including, Allegri, Bagutta, and Hilton. He established his company, Armani, in 1975, which started in fashion and then expanded into other industries, including music, sports, and luxury hotels.
In 2001, Armani was considered the most successful designer to ever come out of Italy and is considered one of the original creators of red-carpet fashion, remaining one of the top designers in the industry today.
Ralph Lauren – $6.57 Billion
Ralph Lauren is a fashion designer, businessman, and billionaire. Ralph Lauren Corporation began in 1967 with a series of men’s ties. At the time, Lauren was 28 years old, working for the tie manufacturer Beau Brummell, when he convinced the company’s president to allow him to start his own line.
The business turned out to be incredibly successful, especially its polo line of menswear. He stepped down as the company’s CEO in 2105, although he is still the executive chairman and chief creative officer.
Anders Holch Povlsen – $6.79 Billion
Anders Holch Povlsen is a Danish billionaire that is the CEO and the only owner of the international clothes retailer Bestseller, which also encapsulates Vero Moda and Jack & Jones, a company initially started by his parents.
Povlsen is also the largest shareholder of the British Internet clothes retailer Asos.com and the second-largest in German Internet clothes retailer Zalando. In 2018, Forbes named him the richest Dane, and he is currently the largest individual private landowner in all of the United Kingdom.
Sandra Ortega Mera – $6.82 Billion
Sandra Ortega Mera is a Spanish multi-billionaire heiress. She is Amancio Ortega Gaona’s daughter, the founder of Inditex, making her one of the world’s wealthiest people.
Inditex is the biggest fashion company in the world and has over 73,000 stores in 93 markets around the world, with the company’s flagship being Zara. After her mother’s death in 2013, Ortega inherited her 7% stake in Inditex, making her one of the richest women in Spain.
Heinrich Deichmann – $7.12 Billion
A German entrepreneur, Heinrich Deichmann is the leader of the family business, Heinrich Deichmann-Schuhe GmbH, which was founded by his father, Heinz-Horst Deichmann. The company can be traced back to 1913, when Deichmann’s family opened up a shoe store with the same name as the company today.
The company is Europe’s leading shoe realtor with more than 3,600 stores in 24 countries, with two of the retailers being the Rack Room Shoes and Off-Broadway chains in the United States.
Ma Jianrong – $11.2 Billion
Because of the textile industry, Ma Jianrong has become a Chinese billionaire. He is the chairman of Shenzhou International Group Holdings Limited, a knitwear and garments manufacturer.
Ma began working in the textile business as an apprentice as young as 13, working his way up to become a factory worker, and finally the chairman of Shenzhou International, one of China’s largest garment exporters that deals with companies such as Adidas, Nike, and Uniqlo. Ma is currently one of the richest billionaires in China.
Galen Weston – $12.1 Billion
Willard Gordon Galen Weston is a British-Canadian businessman and the Chairman Emeritus of George Weston Limited, a Canadian food processing and distribution company. While this has helped him in becoming immensely successful, Weston is also involved in luxury retail.
He is the head of the world’s second-largest luxury goods retailer as chairman of Holt Renfrew in Canada Selfridges Group, which owns Selfridges in the United Kingdom, Brown Thomas in Ireland, De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands, and Ogilvy in Montreal.
Stefan Persson – $16.9 Billion
Carl Stefan Erling Persson is a Swedish billionaire. Up until May 2020, Persson was the chairman of the fashion company H&M, which he was succeeded as by his son. Nevertheless, he is still the company’s largest shareholder, owning an impressive 36% stake.
H&M was started by his father Erling Persson in 1947, with Persson taking over the company in 1982 and serving as the manager until 1998. Persson also has a stake in the Swedish technology company Hexagon AB.
Leonardo Del Vecchio – $20.5 Billion
Italian billionaire Leonardo Del Vecchio is the founder of the world’s largest producer and retailer of glasses and lenses, Luxottica. The company has more than 77,000 employees and 8,000 stores worldwide, making him the second richest man in Italy.
Born in Milan, he hones his skills in metalworking before selling glasses under the Luxottica brand, which grew exponentially before he also became involved in the contact lens manufacturing business. Furthermore, Del Vecchio owns a 10% stake in the Italian investment bank Mediobanca.
Leonard Lauder – $23.3 Billion
Leonard Lauder and his brother Ronald Lauder are the heirs to the Estée Lauder Companies cosmetics fortune founded by their parents. Lauder has served as the CEO of the company since 1999 and is also the Chairman Emeritus of the company.
During his time as CEO, the company went public at the New York Stock Exchange in 1996, leading it to acquire several other major brands, including MAC Cosmetics, Aveda, Bobbi Brown, and La Mer.
Tadashi Yanai – $32.5 Billion
Japanese businessman Tadashi Yanai is the founder and president of Fast Retailing, which is also the parent company of Uniqlo. Yanai first got into the fashion business in 1971, when he began selling men’s clothing at a JUSCO supermarket. Once he got his feet wet, he joined his father’s roadside tailor shop.
In 1983, Yanai opened his first Uniqlo store in Hiroshima and changed the business name to Fast Retailing. As of January 2021, he was the richest man in Japan.
Alain Wertheimer – $32.7 Billion
Alain Wertheimer is a French billionaire based in New York City. Wertheimer’s grandfather Pierre co-founded Chanel along with Coco Chanel. Today, Wertheimer owns a significant amount of the Chanel fortune, along with his brother.
The company is now run by Alain, who also participated in the acquisition of other non-Chanel brands, including Eres Lingerie and beachwear. Alain also owns vineyards in France and Napa Valley, California, and other businesses outside of the fashion industry.
Phil Knight – $40.4 Billion
Phil Knight is the co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of Nike Inc., with a net worth of $40.4 billion. Knight competed on the University of Oregon’s track team where he met his future business partner, coach Bill Bowerman. Together, they founded Nike.
Knight built Nike to become the powerful brand that it is today. Part of the brand’s success is attributed to the strong personal relationships that Knight formed with the professional athletes that he sponsored, including Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan.
Francois Pinault – $43.5 Billion
Francois Pinault is a French billionaire and founder of the luxury group Kering, which owns high-end fashion brands including Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, and Gucci. Growing up poor, Pinault dropped out of high school after being relentlessly teased by the rich kids.
After leaving school, he joined his family’s timber business. Then in 1999, Pinault saw the great potential in the luxury goods industry and took money from his materials company to purchase a controlling stake in Gucci. Today, Pinault’s son runs the company.
Amancio Ortega – $58.5 Billion
Amancio Ortega is a Spanish billionaire and the founder and former chairman of Inditex fashion group. He and his wife opened their first Zara clothing store in 1975 after getting their start in the fashion industry by manufacturing quilted bathrobes.
Today, Ortega’s fortune is an estimated $58.5 billion, quietly making investments in real estate. He keeps his life very private and has only agreed to sit down for three interviews with journalists during his incredibly successful career in the fashion industry.
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers – $66.9 Billion
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers is a French billionaire and the daughter and heiress of Liliane Bettencourt, with her family owning the French personal care company L’Oréal.
The company is the largest in terms of dealing with cosmetics and is involved in other related industries, including hair color, skincare, sun protection, perfume, and more. When her mother passed away in 2017, Francoise one of the 20 richest people globally. In 2019, she was named the richest woman in the world.
Bernard Arnault – $88.6 Billion
Bernard Arnault is a French billionaire who is the chairman and the chief executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton, which is considered the world’s largest luxury-goods company.
Over the course of his career, he has been the richest person in the world on two separate occasions. The first was when he briefly surpassed Jeff Bezos in December of 2019, only to do it once again in January 2020. Arnault is also an established art collector.