Although it often seems female models dominate the majority of catwalks worldwide, some of the leading fashion designers behind these models’ stunning getup are men. Hailing from both sides of the Atlantic, some of the most successful male fashion designers boast careers spanning several decades. The incredible success these male designers have experienced throughout their long careers has established their extensive understanding of fashion. Male fashion designers have done it all- clothing for men and women, bags, shoes, accessories, jewellery, even onesies for babies. They’ve got everything covered.
These male designers are strong competition for even the most acclaimed female designers. Not all of these men were born into wealthy families. Many had humble upbringings in working class homes, building their fashion empires with nothing but hard work and a dream. Whether going it alone or collaborating together, these men are the masterminds behind some of the most iconic fashion of the 20th and 21st centuries. You may see superstar style icons like Rihanna and Beyoncé sporting outfits masterminded by these fashion gurus, and undoubtedly the names of several of the designers on our rich list will be heard from the red carpet at this year’s Oscars.
Fashion is a word that, for many, is synonymous with ‘female’. However, some of the most creative minds in fashion belong to men, and our list will show you just how lucrative this industry is for the 10 Richest Male Fashion Designers on the planet.
10. Roberto Cavalli – $500 Million
Roberto Cavalli hails from Florence, Italy. He’s well known for being the mastermind behind sand-blasted jeans, which remains one of the most popular styles in the denim industry today. Cavalli runs a hugely successful label which produces clothing, footwear and accessories for men and women. He even runs a separate label, Just Cavalli, designed for teenagers. His designs have a unique tribal edge which makes them distinctive and immediately recognisable. He’s made his fortune through his sartorial creations, so it’s no surprise that he’s also come to be known for his lavish lifestyle: He resides with his wife in a beautiful villa in Tuscany, which provides a lot of space for his Ferrari collection.
9. Calvin Klein – $700 Million
Calvin Klein is a household name, a name now synonymous with classic American fashion. Klein was raised in the Bronx, New York. Having always shown an interest in fashion and design, he became the apprentice of a suit manufacturer at the age of 20, opening his own business just a few years later. Fast forward almost 50 years and Klein has designed everything from luxury clothing to sunglasses to perfume and candlesticks (yes, really). Calvin Klein underwear is one of the company’s most successful lines. According to Vogue, Klein’s brand is now as recognisable as Pepsi.
8. Pierre Cardin – $723 Million
Pierre Cardin is not only one of the richest, but also one of the oldest fashion designers alive today. Cardin became actively involved with the fashion industry from a young age, working in numerous fashion houses. After working with major design house Dior, Cardin began work on creating his own company – which became enormously successful. He owns his own castle in the French town of Lacoste, which previously belonged to The Marquis de Sade, the controversial, aristocratic French philosopher. Last year saw Cardin’s collections return to the catwalks after a 20-year hiatus. At the ripe old age of 91, Cardin shows no signs of quitting the industry for good.
7. Michael Kors – $1 Billion
Michael Kors hails from Long Island, New York. Kors started his career at a young age, working as a child model, but soon shifted his focus towards fashion and design. After enrolling and then promptly dropping out of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Kors pursued independent work as a designer. After receiving international acclaim as a fashion designer, Kors returned to television once again as a judge on the hugely successful TV show, Project Runway. Kors was loved by fans of the show, and he remained a judge for five seasons until 2012. With both fashion and broadcasting in his repertoire, Kors is raking in the cash.
6. Valentino Garavani – $1.5 Billion
Italian fashion royalty Valentino Garavani is one of the most cherished fashion designers in the world. Although he’s been retired since 2008, Valentino’s body of work throughout the 20th century makes him one of the most important figures in the history of fashion. Valentino’s designs are well known worldwide, particularly his signature red dresses. Throughout his career, Valentino built up a clientele of highly successful socialites and movie stars like Audrey Hepburn, which allowed his designs to achieve international recognition. Valentino owns villas throughout Europe, and is a fanatical pug fan who escorts his beloved dogs around in their very own private car.
5. Domenico Dolce – $2 Billion
Italian designer Domenico Dolce makes up one half of what is perhaps one of the most well-known fashion collaborations in history, Dolce & Gabbana. Dolce’s parents owned a clothing factory, which provided him with the basic yet essential training he needed to understand how exactly clothes were designed and created. Dolce met Stefano Gabbana soon after he finished his studies, and the two of them began what was to become one of the biggest fashion empires in the world. Dolce & Gabbana is a firm favourite with celebrities, and the company now reports 9-figure profits each year. However, according to Forbes, Domenico’s career (along with Stefano’s) may be on the rocks due to a string of tax evasion accusations.
4. Stefano Gabbana – $2 Billion
Stefano Gabbana makes up the second half of one of the most successful business partnerships in history, Dolce and Gabbana. Gabbana was originally a graphic designer whose life changed when he met Domenico Dolce. Originally a romantic couple, the pair split in 2005 but remained business partners, controlling a fashion empire that has become one of the most recognised designer labels in the world. Stefano, along with Domenico, was declared a billionaire by Forbes in 2013, reflecting the extraordinary success of the brand.
3. Renzo Rosso – $3 Billion
Renzo Rosso is perhaps one of the most innovative male designers there is. He did not have any formal training in fashion but Rosso is the mastermind behind the explosion of ‘stonewashed’ jeans (a treatment process for jeans in which the jeans are literally washed with stones to give them a faded, worn look), an innovative concept that Rosso perfected when he co-founded the extraordinarily popular clothing line Diesel. After Diesel’s incredible success, Rosso has focused primarily on adding to his fashion empire, buying stakes in the high-end Dutch fashion house Viktor & Rolf and, more recently, the major Italian label Marni.
2. Ralph Lauren – $7.7 Billion
The life of Ralph Lauren, born Ralph Rueben Lifshitz in The Bronx, New York, is perhaps one of the greatest examples of The American Dream. Lauren took a risk: taking out a $50,000 loan, he started out his Polo brand by selling men’s neckties. Experiencing rapid success, Lauren launched a line of suits, followed by a line of polo shirts that would define the Ralph Lauren image forever. Now, Ralph Lauren is a global success, with a vast clothing and accessories range as well as a Ralph Lauren Home range. It seems Lauren enjoys his enormous wealth, as he reportedly loves collecting cars: It’s estimated that he owns between 50-100 Ferraris, Bentleys and Alfa Romeos.
1. Giorgio Armani – $8.5 Billion
Taking the top spot on our list is Giorgio Armani, a self-made university drop-out who built a fashion empire using his own raw talent. Born to a poor family in Milan, Armani’s interest in fashion began at a young age, working in department stores and for other designers. Encouraged by his friend (and future business partner) Sergio Galeotti, Armani began to design independently and within a few short years his designs were making profits throughout Europe. However, Armani’s real breakthrough was when he was given the opportunity to dress the actor Richard Gere for his role in the hit film American Gigolo. America began to take notice of Armani’s designs, and soon his pieces were filling the red carpet. The Armani brand is perhaps best known for its range of men’s suits, but the label as a whole is now synonymous with luxury. Now 76, Armani has the equivalent of over $1 billion to his name for each decade of his life. Despite some setbacks (such as the death of his business partner Galeotti in 1985) the Armani brand has gone from strength to strength, and Giorgio has even branched out from fashion opening hotels in both Dubai and Milan.