New York’s Richest Fashion Designers


Whether it is retail therapy that took you to that shoe store or an unsuccessful attempt at curbing your impulsive buying, the fashion industry in New York is thriving on the massive dollars the designers are making. The fashion industry is more than a $2.5 trillion industry with some incredibly famous and rich designers. Whether it is for a simple designer shirt or a scarf that costs a fortune, the fashion designers are one of the wealthiest people around the globe. 

New York is one of the biggest fashion hubs. From haute couture to high fashion accessory brands, the city is brimming with designer products everywhere. Here is a list of some notable fashion designers of New York (link with Top 10 Famous New York City-based fashion designers) who are also the richest ones in the fashion industry:

Ralph Lauren 

Ralph Lauren

Net Worth: $8.2b

With a net worth of about 6.3 billion US dollars, Ralph Lauren stands on the number 100 among the Wealthiest Americans. He was born in The Bronx, New York City, and started pursuing his passion for fashion designing after college, where he studied business and dropped out after only two years. 

From 1962 to 1964, he served the U.S Army and later left to work for Brooks Brothers as a sales assistant. After his time at Brooks Brothers, he became a salesman for a tie company. He started his career in 1967 with men’s ties. He was 28 when he worked for the tie manufacturer Beau Brummell, where he convinced the president of the company to let him start his own line. 

He started his own line by designing men’s Polo shirts in 1968 and further launched a womenswear collection for the first time in 1971. Since then, Ralph Lauren has not looked back. He is the iconic fashion designer who took bold steps in starting a fashion trend and crushing the old ones. He was the one introducing broader ties to the world and changing the face of formal dressing throughout the fashion world. Be it the chic Oscar gown for Gwyneth Paltrow’s in 1999 or the on-spot dressing of the Great Gatsby cast, Lauren’s clothing is seen everywhere.

In 1978, Warner-Lauren, Ltd. launched the first Ralph Lauren fragrances at Bloomingdale’s, an American luxury store chain. The company entered the European market and then went international because of the increasing interest of the people in the brand and its products. In 1981, he opened the first freestanding store, which was the first-ever store for an American designer in England. 

Not just fashionwear, but Ralph Lauren is also renowned as a collector of automobiles. He has more than 100 automobiles, with some being extremely rare. Some of the famous ones include a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, two Ferrari TRs, three McLaren F1s (one of them is the ultra-rare, McLaren F1 LM). 

Significant Achievements:

1970 – Coty Award for the highest creativity of the year in men’s fashion design

1975 – American Fashion Award

1981 – CFDA Fashion Award

1985 – Menswear Association of America’s Designer Achievement Award

1989 – The American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award for fashion and design

1992 – CFDA Lifetime Achievement award

1995 – CFDA award for Womenswear Designer of the Year

1996 – Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research’s first Humanitarian Award, presented by Princess Diana

1996 – CFDA award for Menswear Designer of the Year

2003 – Restore America Heroes award from The National Trust for Historic Preservation

2007 – American Fashion Legend Award, presented by Oprah Winfrey

2010 – Ralph Lauren is presented a key to New York City by Mayor Michael Bloomberg

2014 – Ralph Lauren is presented the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal by The Smithsonian 

2018 – Appointed an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire; he received the award from Prince Charles.

Michael Kors 

Michael Kors shop

Net Worth: $1b

Born and raised in New York City, Michael David Kors is one of the richest fashion designers. With a net worth of about $1 billion, Michael Kors has been one of the top favorites in women’s designer accessories. From watches to bag and jewelry to footwear, Michael Kors has established an empire from his talent. He has been awarded the CFDA award in 1999 for the best womenswear of the year and also the CFDA award for menswear in 2003. 

He started working towards his aim in 1981 when he was offered a chance to show his work in womenswear at the Bergdorf Goodman. His boutiques are all over the world, including America, London, Tokyo, Milan, Cannes, Paris, Seoul, and Shanghai. Michelle Obama also wore one of his dresses for her official portrait as the First Lady. 

Significant Achievements:

1999 – CFDA award for womenswear designer of the year

2003 – CFDA award for menswear designer of the year

2010 – Kors became the youngest recipient ever of the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

2010 – Oliver R. Grace Award for Distinguished Service in Advancing Cancer Research

2012 – Golden Heart Lifetime Achievement Award by God’s Love We Deliver

2013 – Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion by the Couture Council of the Museum

2013 – Made to the New York Observer’s list of the 100 Most Influential New Yorker

2015 – Named a Global Ambassador against Hunger for the UN World Food Program.

2016 – McGovern-Dole Leadership award, presented by Vice President Joe Biden

Tory Burch 

Tory Burch

Net Worth: $1b

Tory Burch is well-known for her impeccable designs and philanthropic work. She has a net worth of $1 billion and has won several awards for her designs. According to Forbes, Tory Burch’s lifestyle branded products bring her the most sales. The designer is famous for her footwear, accessories, watches, and fragrances. 

She had graduated in art and worked with some of the giants of the fashion industry, namely, Ralph Lauren and Vera Wong. She opened her first-ever boutique in 2004 in New York.  

Significant Achievements:

2005 – Rising Star Award for Best New Retail Concept

2007 – Accessory Brand Launch of the year award

2008 – Council of Fashion Designers of America award for Accessories Designer of the Year

2015 – Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s Sandra Taub Humanitarian Award

2015 – Listed as the 73rd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes

2019 – Named a Glamor Woman of the Year

Calvin Richard Klein 

Net Worth: $700m

Born in 1942, Calvin Richard Klein is one of the most successful fashion designers in New York. He is well-known for his fashion clothing brand Calvin Klein Inc. that turned into a huge corporation after he started designing with his friend in 1968. Calvin Klein has made its name in women’s coats, dresses, and sportswear. 

Calvin Klein became one of the major names in the denim industry after it entered in designing jeans in 1974. The brand started giving a tough time to the competitors in the denim industry at that time, namely Gloria Vanderbilt.

Calvin Klein

Significant Achievements:

1974 – Became the first designer to receive the outstanding design in men’s and women’s wear

1983 – Placed on the International Best Dressed List

1981, 1983, 1993 – received an award from Councils of Fashion Designs of America

Donna Karan Donna Karan

Net Worth: $450m

Karan started her career by launching her first-ever clothing line for women in 1985. The designer has a net worth of $450 million and has her own line of clothing named DKNY (Donna Karan New York). She became the head designer after a Japanese corporation acquired the company she used to work at in 1974. Shortly after that, Karan started launching her successful designs alongside her friend Louis Dell’Ollio. 

She is also well-known for her classic menswear collection and was awarded designer of the year in the menswear category in 1992. 

Significant Achievements:

1977, 1982 – Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award

1984 – Added into the Coty Hall of Fame

1985, 1986, 1987 – won special CFDA awards

1992 – Menswear Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)

1990, 1996 – Womenswear Designer of the Year by CFDA

2004 – Lifetime Achievement Award by the CFDA

Vera Wang Vera Wang

Net Worth: $400m

Who does not love wedding gowns? Vera Wang is the most popular wedding gown designer in the country with a net worth of almost 650 million dollars. Numerous celebrities have also worn wedding gowns designed by her, including Chelsea Clinton, Holly Hunter, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Garner, and Uma Thurman. 

The designer has also ventured and been successful in designer housewares, fragrances, shoes, jewelry, and eyewear. Born in 1949 in New York City, Vera Wang is also an enthusiastic figure skater. Her brand also makes designer figure skating dresses. In her early working years, she has worked with Vogue and Ralph Lauren. She has bridal boutiques in London, Tokyo, and Sydney in addition to the New York one. 

Significant Achievements:

2005 – CFDA’s womenswear designer of the year

2005 – André Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award

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