As all eyes turn to the most-watched fashion parade on Earth, we pull back the curtain on the mogul behind the mega-brand.
The man who has built the Victoria’s Secret brand into a lucrative powerhouse is as discreet as his wares are glitzy.
Unlike other hot shots in the fashion industry, Leslie Wexner shuns the media spotlight in favour of a quiet, though privileged, life with his family.
Far from the glamorous heights of Trump Tower, he is described as introspective and contrarian, opting to run his $7.8 billion empire from a no-frills office opposite a rubbish dump in Columbus, Ohio.
Yet the 78-year-old retail guru, credited with transforming the way women shop, is one of just a handful of apparel entrepreneurs to make this year’s exclusive Forbes 400 list of ultra-rich tycoons.
The bra billionaire is ranked at number 63 on the Forbes 400 list, beating Ralph Lauren, Donald Trump and processed food king Robert Kraft.
In an industry that has been described as dying a slow and painful death, Wexner has triumphed by backing the brands that shoppers can’t help but stay loyal to, while countless other labels have gone under.
Parent company L Brands, of which Wexner has served as founder, chief executive and chairman for 53 years, turns over $9 billion a year, dwarfing its competitors as the main player in America’s lingerie market.
With a stable of brands that includes Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Bodyworks, Pink and La Senza, L Brands owns 41 per cent of the $13.2 billion American market.
Its sales hit $11.4 billion last year, with products sold in almost 4000 stores in more than 60 countries.
What has kept L Brands profitable is Wexner’s ability to discern what is worth pouring money into — like jaw-dropping fashion parades — and what needs ditching.
That includes Abercrombie & Fitch, which Wexner spun off in 2007 and has been haemoraging money ever since.
The tycoon reportedly kept Victoria’s Secrets on the hunch that the brand had the “emotional resonance” to survive the shifting retail market.
This visionary prowess has been the key to Wexner’s success from the very beginning.