Fashion Cents

The Real Clothing Billionaires

Fashion Cents
September 14, 2015

Runway models can earn into the millions of dollars these days with various endorsements and side deals, but what about the people who sign their checks? If you want to find the real money behind fashion, look to the creators and owners of fashion lines for clothing, accessories, cosmetics, and fragrances. Here is a rundown of the fashion moguls that can be found throughout the Forbes list of the world's billionaires.

  • Liliane Bettencourt – The 92-year-old daughter of L'Oreal founder Eugene Schuller tops the fashion billionaires list at $43.1 billion in net worth. She heads the list in total net worth in France and ranks 7th worldwide.

  • Bernard Arnault – LMVH CEO Arnault (pictured below) is right behind Bettencourt as the second wealthiest person in France and 11th in the overall list. At $40.2 billion, Arnault oversees a fashion empire including the Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Sephora, and Fendi brands of clothing and accessories.

  • Phil Knight – They may not be runway fashion, but Knight's Nike line of shoes and sportswear are certainly iconic clothing lines. Thanks to the ubiquitous swoosh logo, Knight is currently worth about $25.4 billion for 29th place on the billionaires list.

  • Leonardo Del Vecchio – $24.4 billion in net worth from sunglasses? That is the case for Del Vecchio, the founder of Luxottica. You may not know Luxottica but you probably know the subsidiary brands Sunglass Hut, Ray-Ban, and Oakley, along with eyecare specialists LensCrafters. Del Vecchio is 32nd on the overall list.

  • Stephan Persson – At a net worth of $24 billion, Persson comes in at number 34 on the world's billionaires list and has the title of the wealthiest person in Sweden. Persson was head of H&M until 1998. His son Karl-Johan is the current CEO and is also on the billionaires list, as is Persson's sister and two other children.

  • Francois Pinault – Score another spot on the list for the French. Pinault's group owns the design houses Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, and Alexander McQueen. Pinault's $14.4 billion gives him the 69th ranking.

  • Alain/Gerard Wertheimer – The Wertheimer brothers own the Chanel brands. Worth $10 billion each, they are tied for 121st on the billionaires list.

  • Suh Kyung-Bae – The Korean cosmetics king is worth $9.9 million thanks to his AmorePacific line, good for 126th place on the Forbes list.

  • Leonard Lauder – The son of the Estée Lauder founder comes in at 131st on the billionaires list with $9.6 billion, thanks to the cosmetics powerhouse.

  • Giorgio Armani – The famous designer Armani (pictured below) is in 168h place with a current net worth of $8.1 billion.

  • Giorgio Armani

  • Leslie Wexner – Wexner, in 200th place on the billionaries list with $7 billion, is the current owner of Victoria's Secret and had a hand in the buildup of Abercrombie & Fitch, Limited Too, Lane Bryant, and Express. Thank Wexner for at least one-fourth of your neighborhood mall.

  • Ralph Lauren – From his humble beginnings selling ties, Lauren (pictured below)'s empire has grown to $6.6 billion, placing him at 217th on the worldwide billionaires list.

  • Ralph Lauren

  • Jin Sook and Do Won Chang – The Forever 21 founders were originally listed at 248th on the list, but have risen up to 219th to tie Ralph Lauren at $6.6 billion in net worth.

This list excludes members of the Walton family and other retailers that not usually considered connected to fashion or high-end accessories. Net worth readings are as of August 3rd, 2015 using the Forbes Real Time Net Worth assessment.

For those who have been wondering, H&M stands for Hennes & Mauritz. Did you know that one without Googling it? If so, congratulations — you really know your clothing billionaires and their wares.

Runway photo © IS_/ImageSource | Giorgio Armani photo © EdStock | Photo of Bernard Arnault by nicogenin (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons | Photo of Ralph Lauren by Edgar de Evia[1] (David McJonathan personal collection[1]) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (, Attribution or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

  Conversation   |   29 Comments

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Kate | 09.14.15 @ 14:10
WOW!! Sound investments won't get me on the millionaire list, well not likely, but it will enable me to provide for myself after retirement.
Daniel | 09.14.15 @ 14:15
Not always sure how they come up with the cray things they do but hey more power to ya if you made it
Sarah | 09.14.15 @ 14:19
Interesting. Never knew that making basically unwearable clothing was so profitable.
trish | 09.14.15 @ 14:20
Amazing the net worth of these people!
Steffanie | 09.14.15 @ 14:22
There is a lot to be earned in the fashion industry. Wow.
Ron | 09.14.15 @ 14:27
High society and its fashion is something I can't grasp. Give ne durability and function over whimsy and gaudy.
steven | 09.14.15 @ 14:31
Hmm do not know many of these names. But it is amazing how much they make.
Sara | 09.14.15 @ 14:32
Amazing how much these people make. Who knew that making clothes that are not fit to wear was worth so much.
Erin | 09.14.15 @ 14:33
There's always someone ready to pay big money for the latest 'fashion'. I'm not sure who actually buys some of those outfits though.
Tina | 09.14.15 @ 14:38
I think our priorities are messed up. This many billionaires over these crazy creations that few wear? I don't get it.
Elaine | 09.14.15 @ 14:41
Fashion is big money business. I only recognize a small number of those names though.
Britt | 09.14.15 @ 14:46
The fashion industry has always been a very large industry so none of this really surprises me at all.
Jackie | 09.14.15 @ 14:48
It's amazing the amount of money that is made in the fashion industry. Those are names I don't recognize, no doubt because I buy clothes that aren't going to go out of fashion before I get home and remove the tags..
Kyle | 09.14.15 @ 14:49
Wow. Some of the amounts that these people make are completely insane!
Bobbie | 09.14.15 @ 14:49
Crazy how much money is in fashion. And the crazy clothes that are strutted on the catwalk make it more unbelievable.
Nancy | 09.14.15 @ 14:50
Wow! I haven't heard of most of those. Several of those seem to have inherited a good portion of their wealth, or at least inherited a start.
Selena | 09.14.15 @ 15:00
Wow. How knew fashions that next to no one wears was worth so much.
Morgan | 09.14.15 @ 15:01
I know investors are a huge part of making it big in the fashion industry but WOW at some of the amounts of money
Anna | 09.14.15 @ 15:02
It is crazy to see fashion industry is worth so much.
Heather | 09.14.15 @ 15:13
I can't even imagine this. Who knew that clothing you couldn't wear would be worth so much?
Kamie | 09.14.15 @ 15:15
I never understood why someone would pay so much for a article of fabric.. If it can clean my house for me, or run my errands then I will pay that price.
Meredith L | 09.14.15 @ 15:17
I love seeing the trends but I am far from fashionable. That being said, it drives me crazy that high-end designers, sports stars, and media make so much money when our teachers are struggling to make ends meet. It just seems backwards. On the flip side of that, I'm all about making residual income so I guess I'm all over the place with this.
Crystal | 09.14.15 @ 15:25
WOW! Impressive list!
Chrisitna | 09.14.15 @ 15:34
So crazy. I can't believe what the net worth of these designers can amount to...
irene | 09.14.15 @ 15:35
I only recognize a few of these names, but then I shop for what I like, not for the label it''s made from.
Jill | 09.14.15 @ 15:41
That is a lot of money in the fashion industry. Several of them I have never even hear of before.
George | 09.14.15 @ 16:08
It's good that they make the clothes and other things people actually wear,and make a huge profit.
Jennifer Sears | 09.14.15 @ 16:08
I knew two out of the list, but I'm not surprised at anyone's worth.
Zanna | 09.14.15 @ 16:15
One woman in that top list? Looks like it's still very much a man's world when it comes to fashion.
$commenter.renderDisplayableName() | 10.21.20 @ 10:08