LONDON — Marc Worth, the digital media and fashion entrepreneur who founded the WGSN and Stylus Media Group, has died aged 61.
Worth died of a heart attack, according to his family. His funeral will be held on Tuesday.
A genial man and canny entrepreneur who was quick to understand the power of data, digital news and forecasting for the creative industries, Worth began his career in clothing manufacturing.
He later turned his attention to trend and intelligence-gathering for the fashion industry. In 1997, along with his older brother Julian, he launched Worth Global Style Network, WGSN, aimed at fashion professionals looking for data, analysis and research on retail, product and style trends.
In 2005, the Worth brothers sold WGSN to the now-defunct Emap for 140 million pounds. Today, WGSN is a division of Ascential, a data and e-commerce optimization company.
Five years later — after an unsuccessful attempt to retire — Worth founded Stylus, which tracks and analyzes business trends across a variety of industries including fashion and beauty, electronics, home and industrial design, architecture and advertising.
Hearst would later take a 20 percent stake in Stylus Media Group.
Last year, Worth became executive chairman of Stylus after serving as its chief executive officer for more than a decade.
Victoria Rennie, CEO of Stylus, described Worth as an “indomitable presence whose passion and humor will leave an indelible mark on our business, and the industry, for years to come. Many of us at Stylus have worked with Marc for decades and his loss will be felt sorely.”
Rennie added: “We will continue our work to evolve and grow the business Marc founded, as I know he would have wished us to do. Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with the whole Worth family at this very sad time.”
“I thought it would be a fun and exciting project,” Worth told WWD at the time. “The main reason why British designers don’t succeed today is simple — finance. I’ve been in the clothing business for 30 years, and I thought this would be an ideal way of giving something back to the British fashion industry.”
Worth had an exclusive licensing deal with Alfred Radley, the clothing manufacturer that purchased Clark’s business in the late ’60s.
He said he was impressed with Radley’s “100 percent meticulous” Ossie Clark archive, which included 700 pieces of clothing, and that he wanted to take a chance on a revival. Worth’s plan was to invest a “seven-figure sum” in the business.
Worth picked Avshalom Gur, who had worked for Donna Karan, Roberto Cavalli, Chloé and Nicole Farhi, to carry on Clark’s creative legacy, and head the design team.
Worth had wanted the Clark business to be the first in a portfolio of brands. “My interest is in giving back to the British fashion industry,” he said.
But it was not to be. Worth shuttered the label following the recession of 2008, the deepest slowdown the U.K. had seen since World War II.
Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council, described Worth as a “larger-than-life character who was a great champion of London Fashion Week, and was passionate about supporting talent from students to entrepreneurs. Through WGSN he created a network and trend forecasting platform which inspired and provided opportunities for so many people.“
Daniel Marks, founder of Townhouse Consultancy Ltd., who knew Worth personally and professionally, said he was “the kindest of men, and one of the quiet, unsung heroes of the fashion industry. He was a great listener, gave extraordinarily good advice, and was always ready to help and give his time. In the toughest of circumstances for others he was always happy to step in to support not just financially, but with an arm around a shoulder, and just the right words of comfort.
“He was a champion of fashion, a champion of Israel and a proud champion of his family of whom he was immensely proud. I was privileged to have worked with him and to have called him my friend,” Marks said.
Susanne Tide-Frater, a retail and luxury creative strategist, said Worth was “remarkable as the creator of two extremely popular and visionary platforms used by the wider fashion industry, WGSN and Stylus. Yet he shunned the limelight, preferring to passionately work on his ideas, and support the causes close to his heart.
“I had the occasion to consult for him for brief periods, and we remained friendly over the years. We would often exchange views on the state of fashion, consumer attitudes and upcoming designers. He had an unwavering curiosity, astute intelligence and boundless energy. I will miss him,” Tide-Frater added.
Worth was born in Nottingham, England, and had homes in England and Israel. In 2011, he became chair of U.K. Israel Business, a merger of the former British-Israel Chamber of Commerce and the Israel Britain Business Council.
He was also a trustee of The Tel Aviv Foundation and the chairman of TLVinLDN. He served as chairman of the Board of Governors of Israel’s Shenkar College since 2013, invested in new businesses and mentored young entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds.
Charlotte Clark, director of the creative and events agency INCA Productions, worked with Worth on large-scale London presentations to promote Israeli culture in London.
She said, “Marc was a visionary whose passion and belief propelled him to achieve so much in his life. His enthusiasm was intoxicating and his knowledge and insight impressive. But what shone above all was his kindness. He always found the time to chat, and that was probably what helped him hone is uncanny eye to spot a new talent. I will miss him, as I know will the wider team at INCA productions.”
Worth is survived by his wife Kelly, and his former wife Hilda, who is the mother of his children Patti, Max, Henry, and Louis. Worth’s other survivors include his brother Julian; sister Erica, and grandchildren Edie, Jack, and Margot.