The Richest Fashion Designers and How They Got That Way
If you excel at something, are truly exceptional in your chosen field, chances are you’ll be well-paid for it. How do we know? Take a look at how much money the richest celebrity chefs, game show hosts, and Hollywood movie directors. The same is true for the world’s richest fashion designers.
Designers who produce clothes that make people feel good and look cool with almost no effort stand to make a lot of money. Plus, they don’t have to charge an arm and a leg. Royal family member Kate Middleton loves affordable clothing brands, such as Zara, even though she can afford almost anything she wants.
Let’s explore fashion’s best of the best, and look at how they got that way.
The richest fashion designers in the world
What’s one way to tell you’re great at what you do? You only need one name or a nickname to identify yourself. The most famous and richest fashion designers fall into that category.
Kors. Wang. Klein. Prada. They’re celebrated designers, and they’re wealthier than most people can imagine. The 12 people we’re about to meet are worth nearly $40 billion combined.
12. Michael Kors
Net worth: $600 million
Most of Kors’ wealth comes from his Michael Kors Runway Collection, Michael, and Kors fashion lines, but he’s also been a judge on the TV show Project Runway.
12. Vera Wang
Net worth: $650 million
Vera Wang is basically a wedding dress designer for the stars (or anyone who’s willing to pay five figures for a dress they were once). Kohl’s sells her Simply Vera collection.
10. Calvin Klein
Net worth: $700 million
Klein started out designing suits and coats for men in 1968. Now, it includes underwear, shirts, sweaters, and fragrances for men and women.
9. Pierre Cardin
Net worth: $800 million
Pierre Cardin has been a mainstay in the industry for years, and he’s one of the richest fashions designers in the world because of it. So how does he spend his fortune? Well, he partnered with a Swiss automaker on a car design in the 1970s.
8. Tory Burch
Net worth: $1 billion
A onetime PR and advertising executive for Vera Wang and Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch started her own line in 2004. In practically no time at all, her jewelry, shoes, handbags, and women’ clothes have turned her into a billionaire.
7. Diane Von Furstenberg
Net worth: $1.2 billion
The wrap dress Von Furstenberg designed in the 1970s remains a popular design choice for women more than 40 years later.
6. Valentino Garavani
Net worth: $1.5 billion
The man who only needs go by one name (Valentino) has dozens of world famous clients and net worth well clear of $1 billion.
4. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana (TIE)
Net worth: $1.7 billion
You can’t mention the Dolce without the Gabbana. They aren’t a romantic couple anymore, but they still work together on their well-established haute brand that makes each of them worth nearly $2 billion.
3. Ralph Lauren
Net worth: $8.2 billion
Ralph Lauren has been a leader in the fashion world since 1968, and he’s one richest designers in the world.
2. Giorgio Armani
Net worth: $9.6 billion
How do you amass a nearly $10 billion fortune in the fashion world? You make exceptional, world-famous clothes that are worth splurging on.
1. Miuccia Prada
Net worth: $11.1 billion
Miuccia Prada is poised to remain the richest fashion designer for a while. Her brand is a mainstay in Meghan Markle’s style choices, so a legion of loyal royal family fans will be looking to snap up Prada handbags for the foreseeable future.
How did some of the top fashion designers get so rich?
A lot of hard work and a little bit of luck helped the top designers in the world build their fortunes.
Kors dropped out of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, but he successfully launched his fashion line in 1981 when he was in his early 20s.
Michelle Obama wore Kors for her first official portrait as the first lady.
Charlize Theron, Meg Ryan, Halle Berry, and Victoria Beckham, whose wedding dress was one of the most expensive of all time, have worn her gowns. That kind of high-profile client base doesn’t hurt the bottom line.
The Italian-born Frenchman had the inside lane on his way to becoming one of the richest fashion designers ever. He worked at Dior, left to start his own company, and received referrals from Dior when it was too busy to meet demand.
Diane Von Furstenberg
She married into a wealthy family (her husband, Prince Egon von Fürstenberg was an heir to the Fiat automobile fortune), but she’s a successful designer in her own right. She developed the wrap dress, which was a hit item in the 1970s.
Almost as soon as he understood the concept of fashion, Valentino Garavani immersed himself in the fashion world. He apprenticed in Italy and France, started his own line by 1959, and by the 1960s, he was dressing Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and European royalty.
As a teen, Ralph Lauren always prided himself on his sense of fashion. He started designing and selling neckties while working at Brooks Brothers in the late 1960s, and by 1970 his clothes were some of the most popular around. Five decades as a leader in the industry makes him one of the richest fashion designers in the world. Not bad for a guy who never got a college degree.
The name Armani is nearly synonymous with luxurious fashion, but it wasn’t always like that. He worked primarily in Europe until his clothes were featured in the movie American Gigolo and the TV show Miami Vice in the 1980s. From there, Giorgio Armani expanded from high-end clothing to restaurants and hotels.
How’s this for a career arc? Miuccia Prada is a former communist who earned a degree in political science and trained as a mime. She inherited the Prada family business, which was already well-established, in 1978, and quickly went to work re-establishing the brand’s name after it fell on hard times. Leading the resurgence puts her at the top of the list of richest fashion designers.
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