Until the 20th-century, clothing was handmade and focused on function and durability with little to no emphasis on style. After the invention of the sewing machine and the industrial revolution, clothing started to become mass-produced. The fashion industry is a multi-billion dollar international business. Each year, many people wait to see what clothing will be trending. Although many designers never reach fame, some create empires grossing millions of dollars. These are 20 of the world's richest fashion designers.
20. Kate Spade Net Worth - $200 Million
Kate Spade started her career in journalism, working for Mademoiselle. Five years later, she was the senior fashion editor and head of accessories. In 1991, her experience led her to launch her line. She is an example of a fashion designer who truly worked from the bottom to the top. She started her line with only a couple of handbags.
19. Tamara Mellon Net Worth - $280 Million
Tamara Mellon grew up in Beverly Hills next to Nancy Sinatra. Early in life, she was a world traveler who attended Heathfield St. Mary's School and Brigidine Convent School, and Institut Alpin Vidermanette. She started her career working for Phyllis Walters PR. Then, in 1990, she became an accessories editor for British Vogue. During this time, she co-created the Jimmy Choo label. Ten years later, her brand was in stores like Harvey Nicholas and Harrods. Although she has since left the industry, she still ranks 751 on Sunday Times Rich List.
18. Jean-Paul Gaultier Net Worth - $300 Million
Gaultier didn't pursue education in the industry. Instead, he sent sketches to many couture designers. Pierre Cardin was amazed by these sketches and offered Gaultier a job as his assistant. According to famous fashion designers, he released his first collection in 1976 and is now known as the enfant terrible in French fashion. One of the things that differentiate him from other designers is his clothing lines range from pop culture to street war which some regard as bizarre. The people who model his closes are the antithesis of typical runway models, tattooed and pierced older men and heavier set women. His pieces have also appeared in films, including The Fifth Element and The City of Lost Children.
17. Paul Smith Net Worth - $390 Million
This fashion designer is also a knight. In 2000, Queen Elizabeth the second bestowed this honor on him because he had been a menswear icon for 30 years. One thing that distinguishes this designer from others is that every clothing item he designs has multiple stripes. Smith has built his career by only catering to a small demographic; couture for men, which has made him one of the most prominent names in the fashion industry. Initially, Paul Smith was a High School dropout who joined the Beeston Road Club with aspirations to become a cyclist. His father's influence led him to the fashion industry, making him work in a clothing factory. Although for the first two years, Smith rebelled against this work, he suffered a cycling accident on his way to work, eliminating all possibility of achieving his dream. The rest is history.
16. Tom Ford Net Worth - $500 Million
Although Tom Ford has a degree in fashion, he feels passion separates him from other designers. He attended multiple schools, including New York University, where he also dropped out to pursue a career in television advertising. However, after appearing in commercials for a brief time, he started studying fashion at Parson The New School for Design for architecture. Until he found Studio 54, Ford didn't know which career path he wanted to pursue. Afterward, he went to Paris for an apprenticeship with Chole. The immersion in fashion made him realize his true calling. Although he earned his architecture degree, he spent the final year of college learning about the fashion industry. Once discovering his calling, he worked for Cathy Hardwick despite her hesitance because of his lack of knowledge. In 1988 he worked for Perry Ellis, where he met Marc Jacobs. His next stop was Gucci, where he designed ready-to-wear fashion for Italian Women. He launched his brand of menswear in 2006. Since then, he's split his time between film production and fashion.
15. Roberto Cavalli Net Worth - $500 Million
According to Vogue, Robert Cavalli specializes in superfluity. His first line was a collection of leather gowns that formed the foundation for his lifestyle enterprise. His "bohemian glamour" is loved by celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Victoria Beckham have worn each piece. One of the things he's contributed to the fashion world is revolutionary textiles, such as creating a sexier denim collection. He's also seen as a stereotypical Latin because beautiful women always surround him. Everything about this designer is over the top. He has a Tuscan Estate complete with vineyard, a racehorse collection with jockeys who wear his leopard print silks, and a purple yacht.
14. Michael Kors Net Worth - $600 Million
Michael Kors's birth name is Karl Anderson. He knew he wanted to be a fashion designer since he was young. When he was still living at home, he designed and sold clothing from his parent's basement, calling the line Icon Butterfly. In 1977, he began his fashion education at the New York Fashion Institute of Technology. However, he never completed his degree. Instead, he worked at a boutique where Dawn Mello discovered him. Since she was impressed with his work, she asked him to start selling the collection ar, Bergdorf Goodman. His most famous line is women's sportswear. He is the Chief Creative Officer and Honorary Chairman of Michael Kors Holdings Limited.
13. Vera Wang Net Worth - $650 Million
Vera Wang grew up in New York on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Since she was young, much of her education was focused on the arts, including attending Chapin School of American Ballet, competing professionally as a figure skater, almost participating in the Olympics. In 1971, She completed her degree in art history after a brief stay in Paris, letting go of her ice skating aspirations. Vera Wang started her career at Vogue, where she worked for fifteen years before becoming a design director at Ralph Lauren. Her bridal line started when she was planning her wedding to Arthur Becker. Wang didn't like any wedding dresses she found, so she designed her dress and had hired a dressmaker to complete the extravagant 10000 dollar gown. Afterward, her father helped her open her boutique at the Carlye Hotel on Madison Avenue.
12. Calvin Klein Net Worth - $700 Million
Calvin Klein attended the High School of Art and Design. During this time, he spent hours sketching women's dresses and suits. Later, he received an honorary doctorate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. In 1962, he began his first internship with Dan Millstein, who manufactured suits and cloaks. Additionally, he spent five years working in different boutiques in New York City. In 1968, Klein and Barry K. Schwartz started Calvin Klein, whose designs were inspired by the youth of New York. His first signature piece was tight-fitting jeans in 1974. He also began designing underwear that carried his logo. One of the standouts on this line is that he created the line without regard for a specific men's or women's style. Klein's most significant contribution to the fashion industry was his lines of jeans.
11. Pierre Cardin Net Worth - $800 Million
Pierre Cardin is an Italian French designer who began his career at age fourteen with an apprenticeship at a clothes store where he learned to make apparel. In 1939, he went to Vichy to work with a tailor. He began to seriously work on his designs and understand the industry, later becoming one of the most influential fashion designers. He studied architecture while working in a fashion house early in his career. Afterward, he began working for Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaparelli. He started his own fashion house in 1950 after fishing an order for a masquerade ball in Venice at Palazzo Labia. Another evolution of his career occurred eight years later in Japan when he discovered haute couture. Going against the trend, he released a line of clothing featuring his logo. Aside from fashion, he also owns restaurants and hotels in London, New York, and Beijing, with food products licensed under his name. Additionally, he is a patron of the arts and a Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO.
10. Tory Burch Net Worth - $1 Billion
Tory Burch started her fashion career at Betton in the King of Prussia Mall. After completing course work at the University of Pennsylvania, she went to New York, where she was hired by Yugoslavian designer Zoran. Over the next several years, she worked for Harper's Bazaar, Vera Wang, Polo, Ralph Lauren, and Loewe. Burch launched her fashion line in 2004, Tory Burch LLC. The brand grew to 250 stores by 2018 partially due to Tory Sport, an activewear line she launched in 2015. According to the famous people, Burch is a philanthropist ranked 73rd on Forbes's most powerful women in the world list.
9. Carolina Herrera Net Worth - $1.2 billion
Caroline Herrera was born Maria Carolina Josephina Pacaninis on in Caracas Venezuala. As a child, she made clothes for her dolls. Later her family moved to New York when she decided to become a fashion designer. Her mother was the first influence, having taught her the art of transformation into elegance from a young age. Although she didn't have any formal training, she successfully picked out clothing for women, which led to her designing her fashion line.
8. Valentino Garavani Net Worth - $1.5 Billion
Valentino Garavani was an apprentice to local designers in Italy, including his aunt. studied fashion in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parienne. Once he finished, he started his fashion label in Rome in 1959. One of his most famous clients was Jacqueline Kennedy. He is also renowned for his Valentino Red, a fabric shade in many of his clothing pieces. His designs were among the most famous in Italian fashion.
7. Stefano Gabbana Net Worth - $1.7 Billion
One thing that differentiates Stefano Gabbana from his partner is that he never had fashion designing ambitions. He studied graphic design and wanted to go into advertising. Once he realized he wasn't happy with his career choice, he decided to try fashion. He met his famous partner in 1980 when both were working in Milan. Dolce and Gabbana launched in 1982. However, he still freelanced for other fashion houses during the early days of the company.
6. Domenico Dolce Net Worth - $1.7 Billion
Domenico Dolce was born in Palermo, Sicily. His father was a tailor, so he was exposed to fashion from an early age. Once he got older, he decided to go to Milan and pursue his career as a fashion designer. Once in Milan, he felt he could finally express himself. According to the encyclopedia of world biographies, he feels he creates dreams and is a psychologist. He feels "I have to capture what people are feeling and translate that into fashion and even provide what people want before they consciously know they want it." The Dolce and Gabbana style is a mix of male and female clothes, catering to the concept that everyone has a little bit of the opposite sex in them.
5. Diane von Furstenburg Net Worth - 2.4 Billion
Diane Von Furstenberg's best-known contribution to the fashion world is the wrap dress. She married Prince Gon zu Furstenburg in 1969. Already an elite member of society, she started a career as a fashion model. That work prompted her to start a fashion company. When she began, she focused on basics. Since it was the 1970s, she wanted to focus her line on form and function to reflect the changing attitude of women. Later in life, she became an accomplished writer.
4. Patrizio Bertelli Net Worth - $5.2 Billion
Patrizio Bertelli and his wife Miuccia Prada are the co-CEOs of Prada. Patrizio's grandfather founded the company in 1913. Before he met Prada, he managed a luxury leather company. The couple took the company public in Hong Kong in 2011, focusing on business style, including luxury luggage and steamer trunks.
3. Ralph Lauren Net Worth - $8.2 Billion
Ralph Lauren modeled his brand around the style of the upper class. His clothing lines have stayed consistent throughout the years, mirroring styles typically worn by people on the Eastern Coast of the United States. In 1968 he expanded his line to include a selection of tweed suits. In 1971 he added a classic line of feminine clothes. Each part of his line is based on traditional tailoring with an elite feel. His polo shirt is one of the most famous pieces of clothing.
2. Giorgio Armani Net Worth - $9.6 Billion
Giorgio Armani's line is elevated elegance with a sense of relaxed luxury. His line of beaded evening wear was a blend of classic and modern formal. Armani didn't dream of becoming a fashion designer when he was younger; medicine was his chosen profession. However, midway through medical school, he left to become a fashion designer. His first job was as a buyer for the department store La Rinascente. Seven years later, he left and started his line. Throughout the years, he's expanded to many other collections, including perfume, accessories, and jeans. In 2000, the Guggenheim museum held an exhibit detailing the history of his work.
1. Miuccia Prada Net Worth - $11.1 Billion
Miuccia Prada is co-CEO of the famous Prada line. However, she is also famous for another company. In the early 1990s, she launched a more affordable company, Miu Miu. The company name is also her nickname. Aside from working in the fashion industry, she also works with her company's nonprofit, the Prada Foundation, which helps designers new to the industry.
Written by Liz Flynn
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