Top 10 Rags-to-Riches Fashion Designers

Top 10 Rags-to-Riches Fashion Designers

Fashion, nowadays, is synonymous to the word expensive. A dress, a bag or a pair of shoes may cost you an entire month of living expenses or maybe even more. You may think the people behind these brands must have been eating on a silver platter all their lives. But truth is these famous designers have had their own share of hard times, and it is truly inspiring how they have struggled to be who they are now amidst a mountain of challenges. Here is a list of the most notable fashion designers and their rags-to-riches stories.

10. Christian Dior

Dior started his fashion career by selling his sketches for almost 10 cents. He worked with the likes of Robert Piguet and Lucien Lelong, before he decided to be an independent designer. He was considered the most influential designer of the eras 1940 and 1950, so influential that his works even inspire up to date.

Alexander Mcqueen

9. Gianni Versace

His love of fashion began when he was just a child, helping his mom embroider dresses and making clothes at their small shop. He then opened his own boutique in Milan. He became very popular in Italy that he had high profile clients such as Madonna and even the Princess of Wales, Diana.

8. Ralph Lauren

Lauren grew up in a Jewish family in Bronx, New York. His first job was a glove salesman after dropping out of college. The movies played a big role in his being successful, as he would spend his afternoons and escape to movie theaters and daydream. When he left the army, he married and moved to New York to start his very own fashion business. He was able to sell $1 million worth of ties in his first year.

7. Elie Tahari

At 55, Elie Tahari owns a $500 million business empire. However, 35 years ago, he arrived at Manhattan penniless and actually slept in the park benches at Central Park. His job at a shop in Greenwich Village opened the doors of fashion for him. He created dresses that best reflected the 1970s, which had a great following; it allowed him to open up one of the first boutiques in Madison Ave.

6. Alexander McQueen

He was born Lee Alexander McQueen and is a classic story of rags to riches. His love for fashion manifested even at an early age. He would make dresses for his sisters to be worn in school. When he was 16, he started apprenticing at Savile Row, an area in London internationally known for its made-to-order suits for men. From then on, he would work his way to being one of the top designers known for his designs of strong structure with a sense of fragility. Shortly after the death of his mother in 2010, he committed suicide.

5. Kenneth Cole

Now known as one of the top clothing and shoe designers, he first wanted to showcase his designs in New York City’s Market Week in 1982, but was so poor he was not able to get a display area. He made a documentary entitled, The Birth of a Shoe Company, which had him selling 40,000 pairs of shoes.

4. Marc Jacobs

New York City was home to Jacobs, when he was born on 1963. At 7, his father died and his troubled mother remarried, leaving him to stay with his grandmother, who was such a big inspiration for him. After a number of stints, finally landing the Presidency and Vice Presidency with his partner, Robert Duffy, where he produced had Takashi Murakami produce a doodles handbag and Stephen Sprouse, a graffiti bag. Surprisingly, it has been a success.

3. Chanel

Gabrielle Chanel spent her childhood under the care of nuns in a French orphanage, after having been left by a mother who died because of tuberculosis and a father who abandoned them. At 18, she worked as a cabaret singer in Paris. There she was able to persuade her rich boyfriends to fund her designs. She never stopped working her way to the top since then, building her own house of fashion and the eternal scent of Chanel No.5.

2. Louis Vuitton

Born on 1821 in the foothills of the French Alps, Louis has had a terrible beginning in life. At 10, his mother died, and his father remarried. His stepmother didn’t really treat him well, so he decided to leave home in 1935. After 2 years, he found himself in Paris working for an established box maker. There he knew that what he wanted to be was a maker of exquisite luggage.

1. Hermes

At 15, Thierry Hermes had to live alone when his entire family died of different diseases. That was the time of the Napoleonic Wars. He stayed at Normandy, a country where French horses are abundant. He put up his own harness shop and made a variety of accessories for riding horses as well as his famous bags.


I'm a living paradox. An old soul trapped in a modern world. I'm a mother, a good sister and a writer in that order.

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