Although the fashion business might not always be entirely glamorous, there’s something profoundly alluring about the world of runways and spring-summer collections.
Not to mention the amount of money that goes around. Fashion United estimated the global apparel market at $3 trillion (£2.21 trillion).
Business Insider has compiled a list of the 25 richest people in the fashion industry. Using information from Forbes’ 2017 list of billionaires, the list contains designers, founders, CEOs and marketing moguls that have made their fortunes in fashion retail – from fast fashion to haute couture.
Scroll on to discover the 25 richest people in the fashion industry, including a description of each brand’s rise to prominence, ranked in ascending order.
=23. Alexandre Grendene Bartelle — $2.4 billion (£1.77 billion).
Alexandre Grendene Bartelle (right) with twin brother and Grendene co-founder Pedro Grendene Bartelle and daughter Lise Grendene.
Alexandre Grendene Bartelle founded the shoe brand Grendene in 1971 with his twin brother Pedro. Grendene is a household name in its home country of Brazil, and international supermodel Gisele Bundchen even released her own line of flip-flops in partnership with the brand.
Grendene is now the world’s largest sandal manufacturer and Brazil’s leading shoe exporting company, according to Forbes. Some of Alexandre Grendene Bartelle’s fortune is also a result of his investments in sugar and kitchen unit manufacture.
=23. Bernard Lewis — $2.4 billion (£1.77 billion).
- Wikimedia Commons/Nataev
Bernard Lewis founded UK high street fashion retailer River Island in 1948 with three of his brothers. Lewis decided to move into fashion retail following the success of his greengrocer’s shop which he founded beforehand, according to nephew and current River Island chief, Ben Lewis. The high street name has come a long way since then, with sales reaching £932.7 million last year, in a report by Fashion United.
River Island has always been a family business. Lewis remains Chairman of the company, with his son Clive taking on the role of Deputy Chairman. Nephew Ben Lewis is now chief of operations.
=22. Miuccia Prada — $2.6 billion (£1.9 billion).
Miuccia Prada holds a 28% stake in luxury fashion and handbag brand Prada. She shares the role of CEO with her husband, Patrizio Bertelli. The husband and wife have a net-worth of $2.6 billion (£1.9 billion) each.
Prada was founded in 1913 by Miuccia’s grandfather as a luxury luggage company. It was under Miuccia Prada’s leadership that the brand expanded into fashion and designer womenswear. Miuccia Prada is also the founder of the Prada subsidiary, Miu Miu, which was founded in 1993.
=22. Patrizio Bertelli — $2.6 billion (£1.9 billion).
Patrizio Bertelli shares the role of CEO of Prada with wife Miuccia. Bertelli reportedly covers the business side of the brand, while Miuccia Prada addresses brand image and design lines.
The Prada brand’s assets were severely knocked due to a sales slump in the first half of this year and takings dropped to the lowest since 2011, according to Forbes.
21. Doris Fisher — $2.7 billion (£2 billion).
Doris Fisher co-founded high street fashion retailer Gap with her late husband Donald Fisher in San Francisco in 1969. The couple reportedly launched the company after struggling to find jeans that fitted Donald.
Fisher worked as the brand’s merchandiser from the day it opened until she retired in 2003. However, she retains a 7% stake in the company. Since she retired, Gap’s board now comprises of Fisher’s three sons.
20. Horst Wortmann — $2.8 billion (£2.1 billion).
Horst Wortmann founded the German shoe manufacturer Wortmann KG in 1967. Since then, Wortmann’s company has grown to produce 50 million pairs of shoes which are sold in over 15,000 stores across 70 countries.
Although Wortmann stepped down from his role in operational management in 2016, passing the position on to his nephew Jens Beining, the company’s founder is still highly involved in the Wortmann KG’s strategy department.
=18. Do Won and Jin Sook Chang — $2.9 billion (£2.1 billion).
Do Won and Jin Sook Chang founded fast-fashion brand Forever 21 in 1984, just three years after the husband and wife moved to Los Angeles from South Korea.
After an excellent first year, the couple proceeded to open a new store every six months, according to Forbes. The retailer now has 790 stores across 48 countries.
=18. Isak Andic — $2.9 billion (£2.1 billion).
Isak Andic is the founder of international clothing retail chain Mango. Andic launched the fashion brand with brother Nahman when the pair moved to Barcelona, Spain, from their native city of Istanbul in Turkey.
Mango now has stores in over 100 countries, according to the company’s site, with franchises accounting for 65% of stores. International sales reportedly make up 83% of the brand’s total revenue.
17. Jacky Xu — $3.1 billion (£2.3 billion).
We invited @kendalljenner and @bellahadid to shoot for ochirly 2017Fall Campaign. Shooting by @mario_sorrenti and styled by @brandonmaxwell ,the #bff girls are hot???? and awesome! Follow us for more about the campaign with these two angles? #kendalljenner #bellahadid #mariosorrenti #brandonmaxwell #ochirly #17fw #campaign #supermodel #fashion #followme
Established in 1999, Jacky Xu manages Trendy International. The fashion group owns many brands including Ochirly, COVEN GARDEN, and Miss Sixty.
Trendy International refers to itself as a “fashion conglomerate that possesses a rich portfolio of fashion brands” and runs many high-profile advertising and marketing campaigns for its brands, including a recent campaign for Ochirly which featured A-List supermodels Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner (above).
16. Masahiro Miki — $3.2 billion (£2.4 billion).
Masahiro Miki founded discount shoe store chain ABC-Mart in the 1980s. The Japanese company has stores under the names of ABC-Mart and NUOVO, and also owns the shoe brand LaCrosse outright.
15. Hanni Toosbuy Kasprzak — $3.3 billion (£2.4 billion).
Hanni Toosbuy Kasprzak is the owner and CEO of Danish shoe manufacturer ECCO.
The shoe brand’s sales reached $1.3 billion (£960 million) across its 1,300 stores last year and sold over 20 million pairs of shoes worldwide. The company claims that 210 pairs of hands touch each pair of shoes before it reaches the customer.
Toosbuy Kasprzak inherited the company from her father, Karl Toosbuy, who founded ECCO in 1963.
14. Qiu Guanghe — $3.4 billion (£2.5 billion).
Qiu Guanghe is the founder and chairman of Chinese high-street fashion retailer Semir. Established in 1996, Semir prides itself on creating cutting-edge, affordable fashion for young people. The brand currently has over 3,000 stores open across China.
13. Luciano, Giuliana, Gilberto, and Carlo Benetton — $3.5 billion (£2.6 billion) each.
Known for their colourful and affordable knitwear, Italian fashion brand Benetton was founded after Luciano Benetton wore a bright yellow jumper knitted by his sister Giuliana to his job at a clothing store. Upon receiving many compliments from his colleagues, Luciano and his siblings realised there was a gap in the market for fun knitwear and decided to launch the company in 1965.
Benetton’s website states that “our garments go universally hand-in-hand with optimism and creativity. Knitwear is our soul, innovation is our fuel. And in over 50 years we haven’t forgotten our roots.”
Luciano, Giuliana, Gilberto, and Carlo Benetton all hold the same stakes in the company, putting their net worth at $3.5 billion (£2.57 billion) each.
12. Renzo Rosso — $4.1 billion (£3 billion).
Renzo Rosso is President of fashion group Only The Brave – the parent company of brands such as Diesel, Viktor&Rolf, and Marni. After founding Diesel in 1978, Rosso bought out his co-founder and gained complete control of the denim brand in 1985.
As his net worth surged, Rosso bought out other high-end fashion companies such as Viktor&Rolk and Marison Margiela, encompassing them in the Only The Brave group which launched in 2002.
Rosso’s net worth continues to surge as Only The Brave obtains more brands, and has risen by $1 billion (£740 million) since March this year.
11. Philip and Cristina Green — $5.3 billion (£3.9 billion).
- Getty/Dimitrios Kambouris
Philip and Cristina Green own multiple high street fashion brands including Topshop and Topman, Dorothy Perkins, and Miss Selfridge. The couple also used to own the department store chain BHS prior to its collapse.
Green started his fashion empire aged 21 using a $30,000 (£22,053) loan from his family to import jeans from Asia, according to Forbes. Cristina reportedly started her first clothing store in South Africa during a previous marriage. The pair later met and combined their businesses.
Green was publicly vilified for selling BHS for £1 in order to dodge liability for its huge pension fund which put pensions for 19,000 British workers at risk. The consequent backlash at Green resulted in MPs voting unanimously to strip the entrepreneur of his knighthood in 2016. However, Green has retained his title and the majority of his fortune.
10. Ralph Lauren — $5.9 billion (£4.3 billion).
- Getty/Mike Coppola
Founder and former CEO of the eponymous American luxury fashion brand Ralph Lauren remains Chairman of the label he started in the 1960s and retains 82% of the voting rights within the company.
Lauren started designing neckties with a wider cut – branding them the “Polo” cut – and selling them in New York department stores while also working at the New York men’s boutique Beau Brummell. 50 years later, the internationally renowned brand took $7.4 billion (£5.45 billion) in sales in 2016, according to Forbes.
9. Anders Holch Povlsen — $7.2 billion (£5.3 billion).
Anders Holch Povlsen is the CEO and sole owner of Danish fashion retailer Bestseller. Povlsen’s parents started the company in 1975 and he was only 28 when his father, Troels Holch Povlsen, made him the sole owner of the company in 1990.
Bestseller is the parent company of many internationally acclaimed fashion labels, including Vero Moda, Only, and Jack & Jones.
8. Giorgio Armani — $8.6 billion (£6.3 billion).
The sole owner of the Armani empire, Giorgio Armani’s luxury fashion house has ventures in haute couture, sportswear, beauty, and ready-to-wear fashion, among others.
The Italian-born fashion designer founded his company in 1975 after leaving medical school early. Now, Armani is often dubbed one of the most successful Italian fashion designers in history, with sales in 2016 estimated at €2.78 billion (£2.45 billion).
7. Heinrich Deichmann — $10.6 billion (£7.8 billion).
Heinrich Deichmann is the chairman and CEO of international budget shoe manufacturer Deichmann. Heinrich Deichmann’s grandfather started the business as a cobbler’s shop in Germany in 1913. When he died during the Second World War, his wife managed the store until their son, the current Chairman’s father, finished university and could take on the business.
Deichmann’s reputation for creating affordable footwear is ingrained in its history. The family company organised a second-hand shoe exchange scheme in order to help struggling customers after the Second World War, according to the company’s website.
Heinrich Deichmann took over from his father in 1999. Since then, Deichmann has grown to become Europe’s leading shoe retailer with 3,700 stores across 34 countries.
6. Alain and Gerard Wertheimer — $12.7 billion (£9.3 billion) each.
Alain Wertheimer co-owns the French fashion house Chanel with his brother, Gerard, who manages the company’s watch department. The brothers have a net worth of $12.7 billion (£9.35 billion) each.
Alain and Gerard Wertheimer inherited the Chanel empire from their grandfather, Pierre Wertheimer, who founded the brand with Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel in 1913. When Chanel died in 1971, the fashion house continued to recycle the designer’s same styles and trademark cuts until the company hired Karl Lagerfeld in 1983. Now, Lagerfeld acts as the fashion house’s creative director while Alain and Gerard Wertheimer oversee the business side of the brand.
5. Tadashi Yanai — $14.9 billion (£11 billion).
Tadashi Yanai is the founder and owner of Japanese clothing empire Fast Retailing – the parent company of Uniqlo.
Yanai began his career at his father’s roadside tailor shop in suburban Japan, according to Bloomberg. Yanai later changed the name of the company to Fast Retailing in the early 1990s in order to reflect his fast-fashion business strategy.
Last year, Fast Retailing made ¥?1.78 trillion ($16 billion, or £11.8 billion) in sales according to their annual reports – over a third of which was made by Uniqlo alone.
4. Stefan Persson — $19.7 billion (£14.5 billion).
Chairman of best-selling fashion retailer H&M Stefan Persson was managing director of the company for 16 years until he passed the role on to his son, Karl-Johan Persson, in 1998. The Swedish fast-fashion business is the world’s second largest clothing retailer, according to its website, and has over 4,500 stores in 62 countries around the world, employing 130,000 staff.
Persson’s sister, two sons, and daughter are all also billionaires as a result of their stakes in the company. Together, the Persson family own approximately 33% of H&M.
3. Francois Pinault — $23.7 billion (£17.4 billion).
Francois Pinault owns the majority stake in the Paris-based luxury retail group Kering – the parent of a multitude of luxury fashion brands including Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, and Balenciaga. Since March this year, Pinault’s net worth has increased a staggering $8 billion (£5.9 billion).
The French businessman and art collector also owns a plethora of auction houses, wineries, and French publications.
2. Bernard Arnault — $58.8 billion (£43.3 billion).
- Getty/Pascal Le Segretain
Bernard Arnault is the Chairman and CEO of LVMH – the world’s largest luxury goods company. LVMH is the parent company of over 70 household names, including Louis Vuitton, Sephora, and Bulgari.
Arnault’s vast $58.3 billion (£42.9 billion) fortune is made up of stakes in LVMH, and stock in Christian Dior, French supermarket chain Carrefour, and Hermès. He is the eighth richest person in the world according to Forbes, and is France’s richest man. Arnault’s net worth has increased a staggering $16.8 billion (£12.4 billion) since March earlier this year.
1. Amancio Ortega — $82.5 billion (£60.7 billion).
- Getty Images / Xurxo Lobato
Amancio Ortega is the richest man in Europe and the wealthiest retailer in the world, according to Forbes’ 2017 rich list. Ortega made his vast $82.5 billion (£60.7 billion) fortune through the Spanish fashion retail group Inditex, which he founded with his ex-wife Rosalia Mera in 1975.
Inditex has been dubbed the largest fashion group in the world and conducts business in over 7,200 stores. Inditex’s subsidiary brands include the likes of Zara, Bershka, Oysho, Zara Home, and Pull&Bear.