Fashion's billionaires club: the richest people you've never heard of

Forever 21

We know the brands – the Gap, Victoria’s Secret, Urban Outfitters – but now meet the people getting rich out of our high-street spending habits

Fast fashion is the way most of us buy into a trend – millions of us, in fact. The proceeds all end up in someone’s pocket, of course, but the actual humans behind the brands tend to stay out of the limelight – busy counting their profit, perhaps. Forbes, however, has released the latest American Billionaires List (dollars not pounds but still), and it numbers a fair few faces from fashion. Here are the fashion billionaires you’ve never heard of, behind the high-street brands you most certainly have.

Do Won and Jin Sook Chang

Relatively new to the UK high street, the Elle Woods pink of the Forever 21 bag is becoming a familiar sight. The chain is owned by a husband-and-wife team, Korean-Americans Do Won and Jin Sook Chang, with daughters Esther and Linder in the business too. Together they earned £3.21bn this year – not bad considering that dresses in their shops go for under £15 a pop. That’s a lot of pops.

Leslie Wexner

The owner of Victoria’s Secret could play the granddad in the Werther’s Original advert – that’s how wholesome he appears. His looks contrast somewhat against a brand that makes its money from images of young women in underwear, but the 77-year-old clearly knows sex sells. He bought Victoria’s Secret for $1m (£62,000) in 1982 and he’s now worth £3.9bn.

Doris Fisher

The matriarch of Gap, Fisher is also an art buff – with an extensive collection of works by 60s American greats such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichenstein and Chuck Close. Her art haul is almost as valuable as her work with Gap, and will be available for all to see when a wing of the San Francisco Museum of Art opens in 2016. She is worth nearly £2bn, while her three sons combined are worth £4.46bn.

Richard Hayne

In his spare time, Hayne makes cheese in the Doe Run Dairy Farm in Pennsylvania. As the CEO of Urban Outfitters, however, he’s more often found dealing with production of slogan T-shirts than curds. The youth-focused high-street chain, in the UK since the late 90s, does swift business selling hipster-lite clothing and paraphenalia. Hayne earned £0.95bn – or $1.54bn – last year.

Powered by article was written by Lauren Cochrane, for on Thursday 2nd October 2014 14.50 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010