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The Executive Pay Race: Ralph Lauren Tops List With $14 Million in '04

The annual WWDList of top American apparel makers shows that, after a boom year for business, executives in the sector outperformed their retail peers by 50...

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NEW YORK — Looking for a big paycheck? Go to the vendor side.

The annual WWDList of top American apparel makers shows that, after a boom year for business, executives in the sector outperformed their retail peers by 50 percent in salary alone and got bonuses of almost 70 percent higher.

Just consider numero uno Ralph Lauren: His salary and bonus jumped 58 percent last year to $14.3 million. That was four times more than the number two, Peter Boneparth of Jones Apparel Group.

Of course, the increase stemmed from the performance of Polo Ralph Lauren, which saw its profits rise 12.5 percent last year and a staggering 298.5 percent in the first quarter of the current year.

The salary and bonus also are among the reasons Lauren — who will present his spring collection on Friday — is one of the richest men in fashion, with a worth estimated by the latest WWDScoop of $3 billion, including a priceless car collection and homes in Manhattan; Montauk, N.Y.; Bedford, N.Y.; Colorado, and Jamaica. On that list, he's just behind Giorgio Armani's $4.6 billion net worth.

But Lauren isn't the only one moving up the charts. Gaining momentum in pay were the two top executives from Jones Apparel Group. Jones' chief executive officer, Peter Boneparth, and chairman, Sidney Kimmel, both shot into the top 10 this year, thanks to 12 months filled with the acquisitions of Barneys New York and Maxwell Shoe Co. Boneparth finished at number two, and Kimmel, 10th.

Noticeably absent from the rankings this year, though, are Tommy Hilfiger's top executives: The company has yet to file a proxy, keeping Tommy himself and David Dyer, president and ceo, from making the list at all. Hilfiger, who WWDScoop estimates is worth about $600 million, has a contract that grants him 1.5 percent of the sales of Tommy Hilfiger USA in excess of $48.3 million. Last year, he earned $18.3 million and, had his company filed with its accounts, he most likely would have topped the current one, as well. It's a fortune that has enabled Hilfiger to buy a $40 million estate in Mustique, a home on Nantucket worth more than $10 million and a $12 million pad in Manhattan.
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