Tally up every brand, style of clothing, dress code and type of apparel you could ever imagine, and the sheer scale of the fashion industry should be enough to convince you that it's bloody big business. Yet it's so diluted that, short of multi-million-dollar paycheques for the CEOs and celebrity designers of the world, it's almost hard to understand how anyone makes decent coin from flogging clothes. But believe us, they do.
Amongst the multi-trillion-dollar fashion industry, more and more billionaires are being made, either through those who have come to own a sweeping portion of the world's best known brands, or those who have struck gold by making clothes that more people want to wear every day than any other.
15. Giorgio Armani
Net worth: $5.1 billion USD
He’s the designer who reinvented high-end menswear, and seamlessly entered the beauty and cosmetics department with luxury products that championed his personal brand. Not surprisingly, Armani has quite the fortune to his name thanks to a business that continues to thrive, long after Richard Gere sported the designer’s clothes and made them iconic in the 1980 blockbuster film, American Gigolo.
14. Laurence Graff
Net worth: $5.3 billion USD
The powerhouse behind the Graff Diamonds International enterprise, when it comes to the luxury diamond jewellery market, Laurence Graff is sitting amongst the very top. With more than 50 retail stores worldwide, his company boasts an extensive list of celebrity clients including Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Taylor and Donald Trump.
13. Ralph Lauren
Net worth: $5.9 billion USD
Few designers can aspire to having quite the career that Ralph Lauren has, having worked with some of America’s most established figures and celebrities. His most recent credits include dressing First Lady Melania Trump for the 2017 inauguration. Say what you want about the Trump family, but you can’t deny that Melania is well-dressed.
12. Ma Jianrong
Net worth: $7 billion USD
A former factory worker, Jianrong has gone on to chair Shenzhou International Group Holdings, China’s largest exporter and maker of knitwear and garments.
11. Galen Weston
Net worth: $7.4 billion USD
Weston is chairman of George Weston, the Canadian food and retail giant founded by his grandfather in 1882. It’s seen him accrue quite the fortune, one he added to extensively as he now owns a group of upscale retailers including UK department store Selfridges.
10. Stefan Persson
Net worth: $15.5 billion USD
Considered to be Sweden’s richest person, Persson makes his fortune through the global cheap chic fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz. He owns a 32 per cent stake of H&M and serves as chairman for the fashion company which was founded by his father Erling in 1947.
9. Leonard Lauder
Net worth: $15.7 billion USD
If you’ve ever stepped foot into David Jones, you’d know the powerhouse of an empire that is Estee Lauder. Owned by Leonard Lauder, the eldest son of the eponymous makeup maven, he joined his mother’s company in 1958 and inherited quite the fortune. Thanks to Lauder, he started acquiring brands like MAC, Bobbi Brown and Aveda in the mid-1990s.
8. Leonardo Del Vecchio
Net worth: $17.2 billion USD
Founder of luxury eyewear giant Luxottica in 1961, Leonardo Del Vecchio was just 25-years-old when he founded the company. Since then, Luxoticca has gone on to acquire Sunglass Hut, Ray-Ban and Oakley.
7. Alain and Gerard Wertheimer
Net worth: $20.9 billion USD
Chairmen of Chanel, the French luxury brand, Alain and Gerard Wertheimer have one of the most envious fortunes in the fashion world. Their grandfather, Pierre Wertheimer, founded the label with Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel.
6. Tadashi Yanai
Net worth: $22.2 billion USD
Considered the 27th richest man in the world, Yanai runs Tokyo-listed retail clothing empire Fast Retailing, which is the parent company of Uniqlo. His goal is a relatively humble one: for Uniqlo to become the world’s largest retailer, surpassing H&M and Inditex (the parent of Zara).
5. Francois Pinault
Net worth: $29.6 billion USD
Honorary chairman of luxury group Kering, which owns fashion brands Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Gucci, Pinault changed the direction of the business to be one of luxury goods after he bought a controlling stake in Gucci Group.
4. Phil Knight and family
Net worth: $33.4 billion USD
Knight, the founder of sportswear giant Nike, has made quite the fortune. After running track at the University of Oregon, he created Nike shoes with his former track coach, Bill Bowerman. The rest, as they say, is history.
3. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers
Net worth: $49.3 billion USD
The richest woman in the world, Bettencourt Meyers and her family own 33 per cent of L’Oreal stock, which recorded its best sales growth in more than a decade in 2018.
2. Amancio Ortega
Net worth: $62.7 billion USD
Ortega is one of the richest men in Europe, co-founding Inditex which is known for its Zara fashion chain. Ortega owns about 60 per cent of Madrid-listed Inditex which has 8 brands, including Massimo Dutti and Pull & Bear.
1. Bernard Arnault
Net worth: $76 billion USD
When you oversee an empire of 70 brands, it’s not unlikely that you’d find yourself sitting atop the World’s Richest List. And when it comes to Bernard Arnault, the man whose empire includes luxury brands Louis Vuitton and Sephora, that’s exactly the case. His LVMH group posted record sales and profits in 2018.