Although he currently has a very fortunate existence, Leonardo Del Vecchio’s life wasn’t always like this. Unlike many of the wealthiest people in the world, he didn’t inherit his fortune and grow it. Leonardo’s father passed away when he was five months old. When he was seven years old, his mother abandoned him at an orphanage because she couldn’t afford to care for him. He began working at a factory when he was 14 in order to support himself. Leonardo Del Vecchio went from the orphanage to founding a multi-billion sunglass company that allowed him to become one of the richest people in the world with a $26 billion fortune. Leonardo was one of the wealthiest people in Italy for a significant portion of his adult life. His tale of rags to riches is incredibly inspirational.
Milan, Italy, was the place of Leonardo Del Vecchio’s birth on May 22, 1935. After spending the majority of his childhood being raised by nuns in an orphanage, the 14-year-old Del Vecchio was forced to get a job working at a factory in Milan. Leonardo quickly rose through the ranks at the factory to the position of apprentice to a tool maker who specialized in creating parts for spectacles. Within a few years, he also started taking evening classes in industrial design while maintaining a full-time day job at the plant. Del Vecchio saw the potential for expanding the eyeglasses market, so when he was 26 years old in 1961, he moved to Agordo, the eyewear capital of Italy, and started his own company, Luxottica.
Del Vecchio holds the distinction of having likely been the first to consider eyewear as a possible fashion statement. He instinctually understood that glasses weren’t just for better vision, they were also an extension of the wearer’s personality and style. Del Vecchio began buying businesses in 1974 to increase Luxottica’s holdings. He was striking up profitable licensing deals by the late 1980s. He began acquiring distribution and retail companies in the eyewear industry in the early 1990s. It is safe to assume that Luxottica owns or manufactures every pair of glasses you purchase in the modern world. The likelihood that Luxottica owns the shop where you purchase your glasses is likewise very high.
To name a few, Luxottica is the owner of Lens Crafters, Ray-Ban, Persol, Sunglass Hut, Pearl Vision, Oakley, Revo, Arnette, and Killer Loop. Luxottica also has manufacturing deals with luxury brands such as Ferragamo, Chanel, Versace, Prada, Armani, Ralph Lauren, Cha Bulgari, Miu Miu, Tiffany, Salvatore Ferragamo, Donna Karan, Brooks Brothers, Sergio Tacchini, Anne Klein, Versus, Polo, Chaps, Ralph, Oliver Peoples, and Adrienne Vittadini, Tiffany & Co and DKNY. Around 6400 retail locations are owned by Luxottica in the United Kingdom, Australia, China, North America, and New Zealand. Their brands include Surfeyes, Sears Optical, Target Optical, Cole Vision Care, LensCrafters, Budget Eyewear, Sunglass Hut International, WatchStation, Pearle Opticians, Pearle Vision, and Pearle Vision.
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