Here's How Much Project Runway's Nina Garcia Is Really Worth

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Longtime "Project Runway" judge Nina Garcia is a fixture in the fashion world. She's been in the business for over two decades, and has worked with some of the most prominent designers of our generation. Now, she juggles multiple jobs, most notably her "Project Runway" gig, and her position as editor-in-chief of Elle Magazine, both of which have helped earn a reported $3 million net worth, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Garcia, who grew up in Colombia, is the first Latin editor-in-chief of a major fashion magazine, and she's always had an interest in clothes. As she told HuffPost, "I used to draw my collections and I had a fascination with magazines [and] with fashion. I had a lot of interest in that, I knew it from an early age."

Due to danger in Colombia, mostly from drug trafficking, Garcia was sent to the United States for school when she was 15, eventually enrolling at Boston University, later relocating to France to attend the École Supérieure des Arts et techniques de la Mode, and relocating once more to study fashion merchandising at the Fashion Institute of Technology, per CNN Business. After her studies, Garcia began on a years-long path to becoming an outstanding arbiter of taste. Here's how Nina Garcia generated her net worth.

Nina Garcia's career beginnings

Nina Garcia has her parents to thank for her love of fashion and drive to succeed. She told CNN Business that she credits her mother's love of clothes, as well as her father's hope that she and her sister would find prosperous careers. "Culturally, back then, opportunities and expectations for women didn't go beyond finding a suitable husband and getting married. My father had a big problem with that. He wanted to take us out of that mindset."

Garcia definitely left that mindset, but it took time before she was earning money. The fashion expert took unpaid internships to gain experience and network. As she said to HuffPost, around 1992, she "was a lowly intern who packed up the garment bags that would go to Marie Claire [and] Vogue." Her time as an intern paid off, and eventually she was given a paid position at bygone fashion magazine Mirabella.

Garcia began as an assistant, likely making very little. For reference, the average wage in the United States in the late '90s, when Garcia would have been working for Mirabella, ranged from $25,000 to $30,000, the amount gradually increasing per year, per Social Security. Her salary was motivational, though. "When I got that first paycheck I thought, 'It's time for me to take care of myself,'" she told CNN. "My parents had been taking care of me for so long."

Inside her time at Elle and Marie Claire

After her time at Mirabella, Nina Garcia began her career at Elle Magazine, where she started as an associate editor, eventually becoming a senior fashion editor, and later fashion director, per her biography on Business of Fashion. For Garcia, hard work truly paid off. As she told BuzzFeed of her promotion, "I didn't ask for the fashion director promotion — I frankly didn't even dream of it — but I was working so hard that I was already doing that job."

Through continued hard work, Garcia grew in her career, becoming the creative director of Marie Claire, and returning to Elle in 2017 as editor-in-chief, a position she still holds as of 2021. When given the position at Elle, Garcia had big plans for what she wanted the brand to represent. As she told The New York Times, "I am looking to amplify the DNA of the brand. It's bold, it's provocative, it's inclusive, democratic, it's innovative. I just want to amplify all those things we know about Elle."

Amplifying the DNA of a brand is a big job, and it comes with a big reward. While Garcia's exact Elle salary hasn't been revealed, we can look to a famous counterpart to estimate her earnings. According to the Daily Mail, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour began making $2 million per year in 2005, a position she had been in since 1988, per her biography on Business of Fashion. Judging by those statistics, Garcia's salary is probably six figures, but not quite $2 million.

Nina Garcia's Project Runway career

For fashion industry insiders, Nina Garcia has been a famous force for years, but when "Project Runway" premiered, the rest of the world became fans of the style maven. If you're unfamiliar with the TV show, climb out from under that rock and turn on Bravo to watch aspiring designers compete in challenges that test their skills and eliminate contestants week after week until one is crowned champion. Along with designer Brandon Maxwell and author, journalist, and TV host Elaine Welteroth, Garcia judges the competitors' designs, and is the only original judge still on the show.

It's unclear exactly how much Garcia makes for her role on "Project Runway," but Business Insider reported in 2016 that celebrity judges on competition shows make anywhere from $300,000 to $17 million per season, and The Hollywood Reporter noted in 2020 that the cast of "Vanderpump Rules," another Bravo show, each make $25,000 per episode (save "VPR" matriarch Lisa Vanderpump, who pulls in twice that), putting them at over half a million per season. We're guessing Garcia lands somewhere in that range, especially considering her tenure on the show.

With such great earnings (we're guessing), it's hard to believe Garcia was unsure about the opportunity when it was first given. She told BuzzFeed, "At one point I was like, this might be really bad for my career." The move proved to be very good for her career, and quite lucrative. She added, "When you take a chance and it works out, then it just feels very good."

She's an author

From her decades in the fashion industry and lifetime of interest in clothing, Nina Garcia has amassed a wealth of knowledge, and she's put it to use multiple times as a published author. Garcia has written four books: "The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own," "Nina Garcia's Look Book: What to Wear for Every Occasion," "The Style Strategy: A Less-Is-More Approach to Staying Chic and Shopping Smart," and "The Little Black Book of Style."

According to Business Insider, other celebrities have earned anywhere from $1 million to $10 million for their advances, so Garcia's book deals likely padded her net worth a significant amount.

Writing a book can be difficult, but Garcia has found the secret to conjuring up enough content to fill pages. She told Artful Living she finds her inspiration "from the people around me: my family, my friends, my staff, my fans [and] people in passing." We need to start meeting people in passing who can give us ideas worth seven figures.

Inside Nina Garcia's other gigs

When Nina Garcia isn't editing the pages of Elle or judging designs on "Project Runway," she's making money in other ways, through hosting gigs, endorsement deals, and speaking engagements. To hire Garcia to speak, it'll cost you anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000, per her profile on AAE Speakers. Although she probably didn't get paid to do so, Garcia gave a speech in November 2021 at the CFDA Fashion Awards after receiving the CFDA Media Award.

In 2012, Garcia forged a partnership with JCPenney as their Style Voice and fashion collection curator, per Cision, and in 2013 she joined Quarterly Co. to select items sent out in a subscription box. Garcia told The Cut, "To curate a selection of gifts for my online followers was a thrilling and welcome adventure." The boxes were sold at $100 each, but we're not sure how much of that went directly to Garcia.

More recently, Garcia joined True Gault as a consultant to the company on their venture to design shoes, per Footwear News.

She lives on the Upper East Side

We've established that Nina Garcia makes a lot of money. Now let's examine how she spends it. Garcia and her husband David Conrod live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Per The Council for Community and Economic Research, the cost of living in Manhattan was over 154% higher than the national average, so a good chunk of Garcia's earnings are going toward basic necessities, which isn't that interesting.

What is interesting is the amount she's spending, and earning, on housing. Per Realtor, the average listing price for a home on the Upper East Side is $1.4 million, and in 2011, Garcia asked for much more than the average price for her home. The editor-in-chief listed her four bedroom apartment, according to HuffPost, at an astounding $8.5 million.

A year later, Garcia opened up to Architectural Digest about her home, sharing bits of the process they underwent to renovate and decorate, noting that it was "slow, expensive, hit or miss, sometimes a nightmare." We don't doubt that it was expensive, and potentially a nightmare, but the result was a dream as the apartment is stunning.

Nina Garcia's pricey beauty products

To be on TV, you have to keep your skin clear and glowing, or so we assume. To keep your skin clear and glowing is expensive, and that we know. Luckily for Nina Garcia, she can afford top-of-the-line products. The reality star took to Twitter to share one of her go-to products, the La Mer Regenerating Serum, which costs, at the very least, $385. Garcia noted, "My skincare routine has positively transformed since using this gorgeous product." For $385 we'd expect our entire lives to transform, but we're glad Garcia's skin is looking better.

Garcia spoke candidly with Into The Gloss about her other choice beauty products. Chanel, Tom Ford, Dr. Brandt, and Oribe rank among her favorite brands. She also noted that the best gift she could receive is a blow dryer (there you have it, what to give the person in your life that has everything — a blow dryer), and a friend gifted her a GHD flat iron, which probably cost around $250.

Another favorite brand of Garcia's is Musely. She told Talking Makeup that Musely masks are her secret to looking fresh for Fashion Week, one of the biggest events of her year.

Nina Garcia has expensive taste

When asked by Dore if she thinks her appearance is a big part of her job, Nina Garcia said, "I love fashion, I'm not a slave to the way I look." While she may claim that, the price tags of her items seem to tell a different story. Garcia is seen wearing expensive designer items all the time, like this Prada skirt which originally retailed for over $2,500. Still, Garcia maintains she's a woman of the people, telling Fashionista, "I don't think I will ever wear a head-to-toe runway outfit."

Even if she's not in head-to-toe runway, Garcia is still dressing in clothes and sporting accessories most people can't afford, and her seeming disregard for her privilege got her into some trouble with fans after posting a since-deleted tweet about an absurdly expensive handbag. Per the Daily Mail, Garcia's tweet read: "This is the bag that you can spend a few weeks' salary on and not feel guilty. It is going to last you a lifetime."

The bag in question? The famed Hermes Birkin, so expensive its price isn't even listed on their website. But then, if you have to ask the price, you probably can't afford it, right? The Daily Mail noted Birkins retail anywhere from $14,500 to $74,000. While deeply fabulous, Birkins are far out of reach for most people, but Garcia isn't most people. (Hey, if we could afford a Birkin, we'd probably buy one, too.)

She likes to splurge

Nina Garcia is extremely busy, but she still makes time to spend money, treating herself to pricey exercise classes, lunch out, and more designer clothes. Garcia noted to The Cut that she likes Pilates and cycling classes for workouts. While she didn't note the exact Pilates studio she frequents, she did specify SoulCycle as her cycling studio of choice, and classes there begin at $25.

Garcia also enjoys treating herself to lunch, and Marea is one of her favorite restaurants. Marea has a Michelin Star, a James Beard Award, and other accolades from prominent outlets, and all that really means is that the food is expensive, most items on their lunch menu ringing in at around $40.

The fashionista shared with Fashionista she's also a huge fan of a particular Michael Kors sweater. Although she didn't disclose the exact style, she noted she owns it in every color. For reference, the former "Project Runway" judge's sweaters cost at least $125, something we learned by sorting items from lowest to highest price, a practice we're guessing Nina Garcia is only familiar with in theory. Ah, to be rich.