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12 Past and Present Female Disruptors in Fashion

We’re always looking to learn from women who are changing the world, especially the fashion world. Here are our top 12 past and present female disruptors in the fashion industry who have not only inspired us, but changed the sartorial landscape as we know it. 


Anna Wintour

Anna Wintour is the editor-in-chief of American Vogue and the creative director of Conde Nast. In the early 80s, Wintour was appointed the creative director of American Vogue and was named editor-in-chief of British Vogue in 1985. She has reigned as the Queen of American Fashion ever since. Wintour’s influence is everywhere. She single-handedly put an end to the supermodel era by her decision to feature celebrities on the cover of Vogue, instead of sticking to the status quo of models only. She was one of the first editors to take her photoshoots to the streets rather than in the studio (so it’s safe to say without her, street style wouldn’t be a thing!). Wintour was among the first to truly mix low-end fashion with big designer pieces, including her first Vogue cover shoot featuring a model wearing $50 jeans and a $10,000 jewel-encrusted top walking down the streets of New York.

Photo via: Vogue


Natalie Massenet

Natalie Massenet founded Net-a-Porter in 2000 and is credited with launching the world of luxury shopping online. Net-a-Porter was the first luxury online shopping platform to display outfits editorially while allowing consumers to click and buy on the spot. When she started the company, Natalie was pregnant with her first child and had no experience launching a business, but had a vision that would change the retail landscape as we know it. Online shopping was just beginning and luxury designers were not thrilled about selling their goods anywhere but a traditional store. By 2004, the company was profitable. Natalie’s vision caught on. Recently, she joined Farfetch, another disruptor in the fashion e-commerce world. 



Diane Von Furstenberg

Diane Von Furstenberg is best known for inventing the wrap dress, which she first created in 1972, combining a DVF wrap top with a DVF skirt into a dress. By 1975 she was making 15,000 wrap dresses a week! Diane was photographed for the cover of Newsweek magazine in 1976 after having sold 5 million wrap dresses, which she stated had become as much a staple of women’s wardrobes as a kimono or a toga. And we completely agree. Diane’s vision changed the way women dress and she left a lasting legacy on the fashion world forever.

Photo via: Interview Magazine


Sophia Amoruso

Sophia founded Nasty Gal selling trendy, inexpensive clothes online while pioneering the direct-to-consumer fashion retail game. While most people in the industry were using traditional advertising to sell clothes, Sophia understood the power of social media and used it to grow the business. Nasty Gal was one of the fastest-growing retail companies of all time, until it filed for bankruptcy. Sophia has been open about learning from her experience and is now the Co-Founder and CEO Girlboss Media, the lifestyle company she launched to produce content and events for millennial women.

Photo via: The Coveteur


Yael Aflalo

Yael Aflalo is the Founder and CEO of Reformation, the lifestyle brand dedicated to using sustainable fabrics and practices. Yael is leading a revolution in the fashion industry and believes we shouldn’t have to sacrifice style to be sustainable. Reformation incorporates green measures into every aspect of the brand – clean energy is used in their factory, recycled hangers are used in stores and eco-friendly packaging are used to ship products – just to name a few. Reformation and Yael’s vision is the standard for fashion you can feel good about it!

Photo via: LA Weekly


Tory Burch

In just 10 years, Tory Burch built a multi-billion dollar fashion empire that has made preppy clothes hip and modern again. Early on, Tory took big business risks, such as launching with a retail concept, adding e-commerce before it was everywhere, starting an online magazine, and using social media to build the brand without paid advertising. In 2005, Tory’s business exploded after Oprah endorsed her accessories. In 2006, Burch introduced her signature ballet flat you still see everywhere. She was also one of the first businesswomen to tie a foundation to her brand and founded the Tory Burch Foundation, an organization dedicated to empowering women in business. 

Photo via: Forbes


Stella McCartney

British designer Stella McCartney is known for being at the forefront of ethical and sustainable luxury fashion. When she started out, it was absolutely unheard of for a luxury fashion brand to NOT use leather or fur. Stella was different. She has also been a trailblazer in her support of consignment and rental services. Most designers don’t openly support the secondhand market, but Stella recognizes that vintage appeal is real and flattering to the designer. Stella is committed to reducing waste in the fashion industry and recently became an official partner of TheRealReal.

Photo via: Hashtag Legend by: Mary McCartney


Polina Veksler and Alexandra Waldman

Polina and Alexandra are the co-founders of Universal Standard, one of the fastest growing size-inclusive fashion brands. Polina, who wears a size 6, and her friend Alexandra, who wears a size 22, thought of the idea for Universal Standard while they were out shopping together. They found that they simply couldn’t shop together because stores did not sell both of their sizes in the same place. This was not only inconvenient but sent a terrible message to women. Both women let their jobs in finance to start Universal Standard in response to their experience. Recently, Universal Standard unveiled their ultimate goal of creating clothes from size 0 to 40 to become a truly inclusive fashion brand. We can’t wait to see what they do next. 

Photo via: Female Founder Collective


Katrina Lake

Katrina Lake is the founder and CEO of Stitch Fix. Katrina has built a $3 billion dollar shopping business by disrupting the fashion retail industry to make personal shopping more affordable and less time consuming with Stitch Fix’s personal styling service. As a venture capitalist, she was looking for a company to join that was doing this. When she couldn’t find one, she decided to start it herself. That’s when Stitch Fix was born and continues to be one of the biggest retailers in the business. Katrina considers Stitch Fix a tech company before a fashion company, and relies on top-of-the-line data and analytics to give women exactly what they want.

Photo via:



Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss

Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss are the co-founders of Rent the Runway, starting the business in 2009 to give women a chance to wear expensive luxury brands at a fraction of the cost. Rent the Runway not only helps women look fabulous while saving them money, it also helps designers and brands reach a new, younger audience who may not be ready to purchase high-end designer items just yet. Rent the Runway partners with designers and offers them another platform to sell their clothing, as well as data on what styles, colors and fabrics are most popular. Seems like a match made in fashion heaven!

Photo via: Forbes






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