Uniqlo owner Tadashi Yanai is the richest man in Japan, according to my former colleagues at Forbes. The magazine says Yanai, whose Fast Retailing empire also includes Helmut Lang, Theory and Comptoir Des Cotonniers, earned a whopping $9.2 billion in 2009, $3.1 billion more than in 2008. That's a big jump--especially in a recession--but it's not too shocking, given Yanai's recent retail track record. Uniqlo's well-designed, well-made and well-priced wares have become a global sensation over the past two years, particularly the one-off collaborations featuring insidery brands like Tim Hamilton and Opening Ceremony. Heck, the guy's so powerful he was even able to woo Jil Sander out of retirement. Maybe Yanai's dream of buying the Gap isn't so crazy after all....
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