The 25 Richest Tycoons In The Fashion Industry

By on September 30, 2017 in ArticlesBillionaire News

We all need clothing. That's a fact of life. Heck, even nudists have to put on pants and shirts once in awhile. People who go into the fashion business aren't doing it for the glamour of seeing their creations sashay down a runway. They do it to sell clothing. The global apparel market is a $3 trillion a year business. THREE TRILLION. That's a lot of jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers! From Zara's Amancio Ortega to the Gap's Doris Fisher to the glamour of Miuccia Prada's offerings, these 25 people are the richest fashion industry people in the world and they make everything from haute couture to $5 t-shirts.

#25. Jacky Xu — $1.6 billion

Trendy International was founded in 1999 and is ran and owned by Jacky Xu. The fashion conglomerate owns a number of brands including Miss Sixty, Ochirly, and Coven Garden.

#24. Bernard Lewis — $2.4 billion

Bernard Lewis is the man behind River Island, the UK high street fashion retailer that launched in 1948. Last year the retailer did $1.26 billion in sales. Lewis founded the store after the success of his grocery store.

#23. Alexandre Grendene Bartelle — $2.5 billion

Alexandre Grendene Bartelle and his twin brother Pedro launched their shoe brand Grendene in 1971. The shoes are a household name in their native Brazil. Grendene is the largest sandal maker in the world and the biggest shoe exporting company in Brazil. Fellow Brazilian Gisele Bundchen teamed up with the brand to release her own line of flip flops.

#22. Hanni Toosbuy Kasprzak — $2.7 billion

Hanni Toosbuy Kasprzak is the owner and CEO of Danish shoe manufacturer ECCO which was founded by her father Karl in 1963. The brand has 1,300 stores and revenues of $1.3 billion. ECCO has sold more than 20 million pairs of shoes across the globe.

#21. Horst Wortmann — $2.8 billion

Hosrt Wortmann founded German shoe manufacturer Wortmann KG in 1967. Since its founding the company has grown to 15,000 stores in 70 countries and makes 50 million pairs of shoes each year.

#21. Qiu Guanghe — $2.8 billion

Qiu Guanghe founded fashion retailer Semir in 1996. The company makes affordable, cutting-edge clothing for young people. Semir has more than 3,000 stores in China.

#19. Masahiro Miki — $3 billion

Discount shoe chain store ABC-Mart was founded by Mashiro Miki in Japan the 1980s. The company also runs Nuovo stores and owns the shoe brand LaCrosse.

#19. Luciano, Giuliana, Gilberto, and Carlo Benetton — $3 billion each

Italian fashion brand Benetton was founded in 1965 after Luciano Benetton wore a bright yellow sweater his sister Giuliana knitted him to his job at a retail clothing store. He got so many compliments on it, he and his siblings decided to launch their own clothing company.

#17. Doris Fisher — $3.3 billion

In 1969, Doris Fisher co-founded Gap in San Francisco with her late husband, Donald Fisher. Fisher was instrumental in the branding of the company from its launch until her retirement in 2003. She owns 7% of the company. Three of her sons sit on the board of the Gap.

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#16. Renzo Rosso — $3.5 billion

Renzo Rosso founded denim brand Diesel in 1978. He bought out his co-founder and became the sole owner of the brand in 1985, after which he began to seek out and buy other high end fashion companies including Viktor&Rolf and Marni and consolidated them under the Only The Brave group in 2002.

#15. Heinrich Deichmann — $4 billion

Heinrich Deichmann is the chairman and CEO of Deichmann, a budget shoe manufacturer. The business was started by his grandfather in 1913 as a simple cobbler's shop. His grandfather died in WWII and his wife managed the store until their son finished college. Deichmann is now an international shoe company. Heinrich took over for his father in 1999 and has grown the family business into Europe's largest shoe retailer with 3,700 stores in 34 companies.

#14. Anders Holch Povlsen — $5.2 billion

Anders Holch Povlsen is the CEO and sole owner of Danish fashion retailer Bestseller. The company was started by his parents in 1975. In 1990, when Povlsen was 28-years-old, his father made him the sole owner of the company.

#14. Patrizio Bertelli  – $5.2 billion

In the late 1970s, Miuccia Prada met a man named Patrizio Bertelli. Patrizio was a leather-goods entrepreneur who became one of Prada's largest suppliers. They fell in love and were married in 1987. The influence of Bertelli on Miuccia and Prada was immediate. He was the one who encouraged Miuccia to expand the fashion house's lines beyond leather goods and into footwear and ready-to-wear apparel. He is co-CEO of the company alongside his wife.

#12. Philip and Cristina Green — $5.4 billion

Philip and Cristina Green own fashion retail chains Topshop and Topman, Dorothy Perkins, and Miss Selfridge. Armed with a $30,000 loan from his family, Green set out to import jeans from Asia at age 21. Cristina opened her first clothing store in South Africa. When the two met, they combined their businesses.

#11. Isak Andic — $5.8 billion

Isak Andic founded the clothing retail chain Mango in 1984. Andic and his brother launched Mango after they moved from Istanbul to Barcelona. Mango has stores in more than 100 countries.

#10. Do Won and Jin Sook Chang — $5.9 billion

Do Won and Jin Sook Chang moved to Los Angeles from South Korea in 1981. Three years later the husband and wife team founded fast-fashion brand Forever 21. The first store did so well the Changs set out to open a new store every six months. There are now 790 Forever 21 stores in 48 countries.

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#9. Ralph Lauren — $8.2 billion

Ralph Lauren got his start as a sales assistant at Brooks Brothers in the 1960s. It wasn't long before he started designing a line of wide neckties made from rags. He sold these ties to mom and pop stores, one by one across New York City. Then one day, Neiman Marcus called and ordered 100 dozen. An empire was born. Lauren branched out into sportswear in the 1970s, introducing the ubiquitous Polo shirt. By the 1980s, Lauren, alongside American designers Donna Karan and Calvin Klein, had come to symbolize aspirational country club preppy style. Ralph Lauren now puts out not just a men's and women's clothing line, but through its licensing arm, also cosmetics, fragrances, leather goods, footwear, eyeglasses, and home goods. The company had sales of $7.4 billion in its last fiscal year.

#8. Alain and Gerard Wertheimer — $9.1 billion each

Brothers Alain and Gerard Werthheimer own and run Chanel. The high fashion brand was founded back in 1909, by their grandfather Pierre Wertheimer and his partner Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel, the company's namesake. Eventually, the family bought out Coco Chanel's remaining stake in the House of Chanel after she passed away in the 1970s. Alain and Gerard took over operations of the luxury brand after their father died in 1986. Apart from clothing, Chanel sells perfume, make-up, jewelry, watches and other fashion accessories. US-based Alain serves as the chairman of the company, while Gerard, who lives in Switzerland, leads the watch division.

#7. Giorgio Armani — $9.6 billion

Giorgio Armani founded his luxury fashion house in 1975 after dropping out of medical school. He is the sole owner of the company, which had $3.32 billion in sales in 2016.

#6. Miuccia Prada — $11.1 billion

Miuccia Prada is the granddaughter of Prada founder Mario Prada. She owns 28% of the luxury fashion and handbag brand that was founded in 1913. She is co-CEO of the company with her husband Patrizio Bertelli. Prada is the designer and in charge of brand image. Bertelli runs the business side of Prada.

#5. Francois Pinault — $14 billion

Francois Pinault dropped out of high school in 1947 after being bullied because of his impoverished background.  He went to work for his family's timber trading business and in the 1970's began acquiring smaller firms.  He is known for ruthless business practices such as cutting jobs and selling his timber company—only to buy it back at a much smaller cost when the market crashed. He also did well in the French junk bond market, eventually amassing a fortune that allowed him to start PPR, a luxury goods retailer that sells brands like Gucci and Stella McCartney.

#4. Tadashi Yanai — $17 billion

Tadashi Yanai's father Hitoshi opened a men's clothing shop called Ogori Shoji in 1949. Tadashi joined the family business in 1972. He changed the name of the company to Fast Retailing in 1991 and is currently a holding company for its main subsidiary, Uniqlo. The first Uniqlo store was opened in 1984 in Hiroshima and the company has since gone global. Fast Retailing also owns J Brand, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Princesse Tam-Tam and Theory.

#3. Stefan Persson — $25 billion

Stefan Persson's father Erling Persson founded the women's clothing store Hennes in 1947. He was inspired by stores like Macy's and Barney's during a trip to the U.S. and wanted to bring a store like that to Sweden. In 1968, he acquired Mauritz Widforss, a hunting store that also carried a men's clothing line. This led to the creation of H&M (Hennes & Mauritz), which today is the world's biggest purveyor of fast fashion. In 1982, H&M expanded to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Moscow and New York. Today H&M is worldwide.

GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images

 #2. Bernard Arnault — $37 billion

Bernard Arnault received his bachelor's degree in Engineering and went into the family business, civil engineering firm Ferret-Savinel. In 1984, Arnault acquired the financial firm Financiere Agache-Willot, which controlled the textile company Marcel Boussac. Once he had control of Boussac he went after several subsidiaries, including Christian Dior and high-end French department store Le Bon Marche. Arnault has been the Chairman and CEO of LVMH and Chairman of Christian Dior since 1989.

#1. Amancio Ortega — $80 billion

Amancio Ortega is one of the wealthiest people in the world. He is the founder of the Inditex fashion group, which is best known for the chain of Zara clothing stores. Ortega dropped out of school as a teenager to work as a delivery boy for a local tailor. In the late 1960s, he started designing dressing gowns, lingerie, and housecoats from his home. In 1975, he co-founded Zara with his wife at the time, Rosalia Mera. In 1985 he formed Inditex as a holding company for Zara and his other retail brands.

Articles Written by Amy Lamare
Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer covering business, technology, entertainment, philanthropy, and pop culture. She spent 8 1/2 years covering the entertainment industry for www.hsx.com. She attended the University of Southern California where she majored in Creative Writing. An avid long distance runner, weekends she can be found running the streets of Los Angeles training for 1/2 and full marathons. Follow her on Facebook.
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