London’s fashion power list
STANDARD’S DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO THE REAL PLAYERS:
By Victoria Moss
THE fashion industry is worth around £1.2 trillion and is estimated to employ around 430 million people globally. But what does power in fashion mean now? Fashion is a followers’ game but the real influence happens on the high street and in your wardrobe. The (mostly male) billionaires might be holding the purse strings, but we’re wearing the merch. We’ve looked at the industry and its tributaries from every which way — is a footballer more powerful than an industry favourite designer if everyone’s copying their style? Are the traditional titans of publishing holding their own over the stars of social media? And what of the Kardashian Klan?
The Standard Fashion Power 100 list is, in reality, a work in progress. Over the next 12 months these names will fall in and out of favour; one viral campaign image can propel a person to the top of everyone’s feed and one spurious post can get them momentarily cancelled. But for 2023, looking at revenue, followers, old-fashioned clout — and, most crucially, total cut through — we’ve compiled the 100 names which we think are directing the most critical element of all — what we’re all actually wearing.
Kim has turned flesh-toned control pants into something cool with a brand value of £3bn
1. Marta Ortega Pérez Non-executive chair of Inditex
Since being appointed chair of Inditex in 2021, Ortega has been carefully positioning Zara at the heart of the fashion world and elevating the optics of the high street megalith. She attends shows at Paris Fashion Week, launched a collection with photographer Steven Meisel at Dover Street Market and recently hosted the great and good at her foundation in A Coruña, Spain (the Northern Spanish city which is home to Inditex’s vast HQ) for the opening of its Helmut Lang exhibition. In September, the world’s biggest fast-fashion company announced a 40 per cent jump in halfyear net profits. It’s this combination of industry clout and customer loyalty that makes her this year’s No 1.
2. The Arnault Family Owners LVMH
Fashion’s favourite succession story comes via the billionaire Arnault family. Led by Bernard Arnault, the 74-year-old presides over the vast LVMH empire of 75 fashion and cosmetic brands which includes Christian Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Sephora and Tiffany & Co. Arnault’s five children lead his star houses, and have equal stakes in the holding company. Arnault, worth about $187.4 billion, is the third richest man in the world. Louis Vuitton stands as the second most valuable fashion brand globally.
3. Kim Kardashian Entrepreneur
Whatever your thoughts on the Kardashian Klan, their impact on the fashion world can’t be avoided. Kim has recently sent a nipple bra viral and her 364 million Instagram followers are in thrall to her every hair flick, and product drop. SKIMS, her brand which has turned fleshcoloured control pants into something cool, is valued at around £3 billion and has upped the former Mrs Kardashian West’s personal worth to $4 billion.
4. Edward Enninful OBE Editor
The mighty Enninful might be exiting stage right from the helm of British Vogue, but this isn’t holding him back. The final “editor-in-chief” of the title has left an indelible mark on the industry and the wider cultural scene from his six-year tenure, forcing an agenda of change and inclusivity. His provocative Vogue covers have created global talking points, from Meghan guest editing to Rihanna and her baby son, not forgetting Miriam Margoyles shielding her modesty with iced buns.
Enninful has just signed to the WME talent agency, which will also handle TV and film rights to his best-selling memoir, A Visible Man. London loves Edward, and with good reason.
5. Dame Anna Wintour Chief Content Officer, Condé Nast
Rumours of her retirement or exit from Condé Nast abound, but the more chatter there is, the more the 74-year-old seems to double down on her position as a doyenne of the industry. She oversees the global output of the magazine media company but it recently announced a five per cent cut to the workforce. She is deliberating over the reimagining of Vogue as an “expansive, experiential” brand with her “Vogue World” events, the latest of which took place at London Fashion Week and included a performance from Stormzy.
6. Phoebe Philo Creative director
The reclusive designer has kept the fashion world waiting for her new solo venture which finally launched in October, six long years after she left Celine. In her absence the so-called “Philophiles” traded past season Celine stock at ever-increasing prices. But who else could crash the internet with her £3,000 “Mum” necklaces and £6,000 handbags? Most of us won’t be able to afford her clothes, but look out for the high street homages.
7. Karlie Kloss CEO i-D magazine
The US supermodel and mother of two has taken a step into iconic British publishing with her acquisition of i-D, the cult magazine founded by former Vogue art director Terry Jones in 1980. She is already an investor in W magazine, which she bought with a group (including fellow model Kaia Gerber) in 2020. Kloss takes the position of chief executive at i-D.
8. Jonathan Anderson Creative Director Loewe & JW Anderson
The Northern Irish, London-based designer has turned the Spanish luxury house Loewe and his eponymous label JW Anderson into two of the world’s most covetable brands. His midas touch on viral hits — from Frog wellies to Harry Styles’ cardigan — has seen his fashion stock soar. Global fashion search engine Lyst has anointed the Loewe anagram as the logo of year; Anderson was named international designer of the year at New York’s CFDA awards. He is in contention for designer of the year at tonight’s Fashion Awards at the Royal Albert Hall.
9. Catherine, Princess of Wales
In his royal-bashing tome, Endgame, Omid Scobie points out that there is “always a focus on what Kate is wearing — her clothes, her jewellery, her shoes, her hairstyle — to such an extent that often what she says and does is usually an afterthought.” Nevertheless, the rampant attention on every Sezane skirt and
Gianvito Rossi shoe she puts on (masterminded by her PA Natasha Archer) translates into sell out demand. When the news of Sarah Burton’s departure from Alexander McQueen broke, the major question was what will Kate wear? Profit lines are dependent, quite frankly.
10. François-Henri Pinault Chairman and CEO at Kering
As the CEO of luxury conglomerate Kering, Pinault (also, Mr Salma Hayek) oversees Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Alexander McQueen. He has latterly become something of a kingmaker. After Alessandro Michele’s shock departure from Gucci, he installed Sabato De Sarno to take on the Italian juggernaut, while all eyes are on fledgling creative director Seán McGirr, who — somewhat controversially — has been assigned to fill Sarah Burton’s white Nike’s at Alexander McQueen.
11. Pharrell Williams Men’s artistic director, Louis Vuitton
Williams has had to follow in the footsteps of the late Virgil Abloh but his debut show last June cemented the concept of fashion as entertainment. With Beyonce, Jay Z, Rihanna and A$AP Rocky in the front row, the mega-budget spectacle, complete with gospel choir, churned out the viral style hits. Last week he followed up with an internet-storming show in Hong Kong. His most headline-grabbing offer? A $1 million crocodile and gold Speedy handbag.
12. Sky Xu Founder and CEO of Shein
At the other end of the fashion spectrum comes Shein, the Chinese ultra-fast fashion powerhouse that churns out every internet style trend at a rate of knots to its captive audience thirsty to pill the content of their TikTok hauls. While Gen Z might murmur about sustainable ethics, in reality, this cohort are sold on the cheap thrills of overproduction at terrifyingly low prices. This year Shein hit £1 billion UK sales and is set to open an HQ in Manchester.
13. Naomi Campbell Supermodel
Streatham-born Campbell, 53, is nowhere near slowing down and next June will become the first model to front a retrospective exhibition at the V&A. Called Naomi, it will tell the story of her career in fashion and life beyond; from being discovered in Covent Garden at 15 to her philanthropic efforts supporting emerging talent from developing countries.
14. North West Kardashian scion
The 10-year-old was on the cover of i-D’s November The New Wave issue; she’s gone viral for critiquing her mother’s Met Gala looks, saying of her Schiaparelli pearl-laden design: “Well, it could be better. It looks like she’s a Hawaiian girl with her dress all ripped up. The pearls look fake.” It was, said Daniel Roseberry, Schiaparelli’s visionary creative director, his “worst nightmare”. Sometimes the only way to corrupt is from within.
Frankly we’re here for every hot-take the tween will make.
15. Miuccia Prada Designer
For many, Prada is the reigning queen of the fashion industry. If you’re wondering why celebrities are turning up to the red carpet wearing nothing more than a pair of pants, thank Miuccia. Praise also be for her turning of hoodies, messy hair and trainers into a runway look, and latterly making an overspilling handbag A Thing. For the second year in a row, Lyst has called Miu Miu the brand of the year, noting searches for the label have increased 39 per cent year-on-year.
16. Jens & Emma Grede Chief executives
This LA-based, Swedish-British power couple are the real brains behind the Kardashian brand juggernaut. It is they who have shaped the concept and logistics for the Khloe-fronted Good American (valued at over $12 million), Kim’s $3 billion SKIMS and latterly Kylie’s Khy. Plaistow-raised Emma has a reported fortune of around £275 million. The couple last year purchased Brad Pitt’s former Malibu home for $45 million.
The Croydon-born supermodel, who will turn 50 next year, is a living icon of influence in British fashion, currently starring on one of Edward Enninful’s final Vogue covers with her daughter Lila. As well as directing her own talent and modelling agency, she is the face of Saint Laurent, Anine Bing and Diet Coke; and has latterly, seemingly without irony, branched out into wellness with her positively received Cosmoss brand.
18. Helena Helmersson CEO of H&M Group
Appointed CEO in 2020, Helmersson, previously the company’s “head of sustainability”, has overseen a period of downturn at the high street behemoth, which incorporates H&M, Arket, & Other Stories, Monki and Cheap Monday. This summer, however, saw a share price increase of 17 per cent. H&M took an unlikely role in October’s Paris Fashion Week proceedings, unveiling its much hyped (and sell out) collaboration with Rabanne. Underscoring its prowess — Cher performed to a crowd which included Irina Shayk, Jared Leto, Iris Law, Ashley Graham and Alton Mason.
19. Harry Styles Pop icon
The 29-year-old has set off two unlikely fashion moments this year: feather boas being one, littering the streets around his stadium tour appearances, and rather more humbly, the cardigan. Namely the striped Molly Goddard one he wore to be immortalised by David Hockney earlier this year. Not to mention, nail varnish for everyone. When his Pleasing cosmetic brand launched at Selfridges recently there were queues streaming down Oxford street.
20. Rei Kawakubo Designer
The doyenne of Comme des Garçons with an almost cult-like devotion is still, at 81, a cultural powerhouse. A sneakily snapped picture of her from October’s Paris fashion week went viral, proving that the designer is as fêted as ever. Not to mention the fact that the queues for this summer’s Dover Street Market archive sale in Rotherhithe were so hefty that police had to shut the Tube station.
Harry Styles has set off two fashion moments this year — feather boas and the humble cardigan
Evening Standard Limited