Leslie H. Wexner was born on September 8, 1937, in Dayton, Ohio. He was the son of Russian immigrants. His parents owned and operated a chain of clothing stores. The family eventually moved to Columbus, where Les attended The Ohio State University, majoring in business administration. He briefly attended law school but quickly left to work in his parents' business.
In 1963, Wexner opened his own store in the Kingsdale Shopping Center in Columbus, Ohio. He named his store The Limited, a women's clothing store. The store grew quickly, and Wexner used the profits to expand his business interests, focusing primarily upon women's clothing. In 1982, The Limited purchased Victoria's Secret, a lingerie store, as well as Lane Bryant, a women's clothing specialty store. By the end of the 1990s, Wexner and The Limited owned several chains, including Victoria's Secret, Lane Bryant, Lerner Stores, Henri Bendel, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Bath & Body Works.
By the late 1990s, The Limited began to downsize its extensive business holdings. In 2002, the company changed its name to Limited Brands, and by 2007, the company put an emphasis on intimate apparel and personal care through its well-known brands: Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, C.O. Bigelow, La Senza, White Barn Candle Co. and Henri Bendel. The company operates stores across the United States and Canada. In 2007, Limited Brands employed nearly 100,000 people and earned more than $10 billion.
Wexner also had other business interests. During the late 1990s, he invested in Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio. This urban retail center is modeled like a small community, where shoppers walked down quaint streets from store to store.
Mr. Wexner has a personal commitment to excellence, leadership and community service throughout his business and philanthropic endeavors such as the Wexner Heritage Program, the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program and the Wexner Israel Fellowship Program. He has also helped to create cadres of effective, passionate Jewish volunteer, professional and government leaders in North America and Israel. In addition, Mr. Wexner has been a leader in the development of Harvard University's Center for Public Leadership, is a member of Hillel's International Board of Governors and was the principal benefactor of the Wexner Jewish Student Center at The Ohio State University.
As a result of his success, Wexner also contributes to various charitable groups such as the Wexner Center for the Arts located on The Ohio State University, United Way, Children’s Hospital, the Columbus Foundation as well as COSI, the Center of Science and Industry.