Benetton, a father of four, died in his home in the northern Italian city of Treviso.
With his brothers Luciano and Gilberto and his sister Giuliana, Carlo Benetton founded United Colors of Benetton in 1965 in Ponzano Veneto, a village in Italy's north-east.
Their signature soft wool jumpers made in a variety of colours quickly seduced the masses. The company went from strength to strength especially between 1982 and 2000 – its fame fuelled by daring ad campaigns by Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani, such as a 1989 poster which featured a black woman breastfeeding a white baby.
Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP
But for over a decade the brand has been hit by dwindling sales. In 2017, following heavy losses, the 83-year-old Luciano Benetton announced he was coming out of retirement to retake the reins of the company.
In an interview in November 2017 with Italian daily La Repubblica, Luciano Benetton said that witnessing the downfall of the United Colors of Benetton was "an intolerable pain".
He cited straying too far from the company's signature look as one of the reasons for the company's woes and vowed to relaunch the brand to its former glory.
Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP