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Underwear is great for the bottom line, according to Forbes magazine’s recently-released billionaires list. Joining the rarefied ranks of Carlos Helú Slim and Warren Buffet are two young underwear executives, both of who have bolstered the industry and kept it high and dry in a period of overall damp growth.
Under Armour’s founder and CEO, Kevin Plank, débuted as the 1075th richest person in the world, deriving his wealth from his moisture-wicking athletic apparel that has become the unofficial uniform for almost every sportsman and woman across the country. As an ex-University of Maryland football player, Kevin Plank understands winning strategies. His company projects revenue of $2.1 billion by the end of 2013.
He started the company in 1996 and sold his wares from the back of his car to begin with. Under Armour sells everything from athletic cups and sports briefs to hiking shoes and jackets, though his underwear remains the most popular.
Also joining the billionaires’ club is Spanx CEO Sara Blakely, who is the youngest self-made woman in the ranks. The Forbes list, you won’t be surprised to learn, skews older, white and male, and if female, skews inherited. Blakely created Spanx, and then Spanx for Men when she realized that her high volume of size XXL orders were going to guys.
Blakely’s unique story merited the cover of Forbes, when they found she “owns 100% of the private company, has zero debt, has never taken outside investment and hasn’t spent a nickel on advertising.” Impressive stuff, especially when you consider she “nets an estimated 20% on revenue just south of $250 million.”
In addition to plain smarts, there’s a reason why these two high-profile young billionaires have been able to make underwear a billion dollar job: the industry as a whole is expanding rapidly, with men’s underwear providing the highest rate growth in the entire apparel sector.