If there’s one industry that women dominate, it must be fashion. Women can be credited for shaping and propelling this $2.4-trillion industry (according to Mckinsey Global Fashion Index), which grew annually by an average of 5.5 percent in the past decade.
For International Women’s Day, let’s put the spotlight on some of these women who have shaped the way we see fashion.
Rei Kawakubo. After more than four decades, this Japanese designer, who was never formally trained, continues to be an enigma. She founded Comme des Garçon in 1969, with her unconventional philosophy about fashion as antiornamentation and antisexy. Together with her husband Adrian Joffe, she championed high-concept, meticulous curation with her shop Dover Street Market, and manages to make $220 million a year. Her longevity and profitability are proof that creativity sells.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Hats off to these twins who keep women enamored with whatever they wear and do. The epitome of the New York urban aesthetic, these ladies have great business acumen and a marketability that crosses demographics. The success of the Mary-Kate and Ashley tweens line at Walmart in the ’90s and now their upscale designer labels, The Row and Elizabeth & James, make them a force to reckon with.
Stella McCartney. You’ve got to admire this woman for daring to step beyond her father’s shadow and carving out her own name in a competitive industry. She created a brand, sold it to the Kering group (which owns Balenciaga, Gucci, Saint Laurent, etc.) and eventually bought it back and acquired full control, operating more than 48 stores worldwide.
Leandra Medine. This American blogger behind Man Repeller has influenced our fashion choices by being the virtual friend who tells us it is okay to buy that boxy tailored jacket or that it is unnecessary to cinch a 24-inch waist to look attractive.
Phoebe Philo. It is rare to have a designer offer clothes so simple and minimalist, yet get us giddy and craving for more. Phoebe built up a tribe of loyal followers who were heartbroken when she left Céline. Phoebe’s Céline was more than a brand. It was an ethos that will continue to influence women’s fashion decisions in the years to come.
Delphine Arnault. Can you imagine what it’s like to be Bernard Arnault’s daughter, heiress of a $70-billion empire of luxury house LVMH? At 43, she is now executive vice president of Louis Vuitton and just established the LVMH Prize, recognizing young talents in fashion.
Iris Apfel. She is a ubiquitous figure in the fashion arena, becoming a model for MAC cosmetics at age 91. And just this month, at 95, she signed a modeling contract with IMG, along with other talents like Karlie Kloss and Gigi Hadid. It’s proof that there is no age limit to enjoy and benefit from fashion.
Yoon Ambush. The Korean-American, who shot to fame with her cutting-edge jewelry designs, was appointed Dior Homme accessories designer —a young Asian putting her stamp on fashion. A former New York-based graphic designer, she started out in jewelry design by making trinkets for friends and has become the personification of the saying, “Anything is possible.”
Natalie Massenet. Mas-senet is the creative online retail pioneer who founded Net-a-Porter in 2000. She broke the tech barrier and has steered the world toward online shopping. Thanks to her concept of a magazine editorial shopping format, it makes the whole online shopping experience pleasurable.
Iris van Herpen. She broke boundaries in design with her use of technology. Her high-tech process of creating fabric using a 3D printer is groundbreaking enough to open for designers a whole new world of possibilities.
There’s more, like Floriane de Saint Pierre, the Paris-based headhunter responsible for placing and matching designers with fashion houses. Lotta Volkova is the stylist who helped define the look of Vetements. Anna Wintour is possibly one of the most forceful influences in fashion. And there’s Victoria Beckham, not only a style icon but another celebrity turned fashion mogul.