An empire is judged by its conquests and the power of the conqueror. With 400 boutiques across the globe, 8 million followers on Instagram, three dierent prêtà- porter lines Michael Kors, Michael Kors Collection and Michael Michael Kors, the man behind this empire has proven his strength in more ways than one. The story of Michael Kors, who began his career as a salesman, and his rise as a global fashion icon is nothing short of a fairly tale.
As a boy, Michael dreamt of working in Broadway musicals. However, his passion for fashion began rather early on in life. His first assignment was helping his mother decide on her wedding gown. Michael was all of five and a prodigy was born. Down the line, he enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, but dropped out a few months later to work as a salesman. An entrepreneur by spirit, he decided to launch his own fashion brand at the prime age of 22 with just one idea in his mind: “To bring together sportswear and glamour. It was my aim even when I was in school and I continue to do this even in 2016.”
Kors was 38, when he le New York to join Céline in Paris. Acquired one year earlier by the LVMH group, the French house found him an ideal candidate who could refresh the brand. Clearly, a good choice, given that in 12 seasons, from 1997 to 2003, the brand doubled its sales and soon entered celebrity closets such as Gisele Bündchen, Carmen Kass and Malgosia Bela. His designs entered the world of the ‘it-bags.’
Even today, Céline’s bags bear the mark of Michael Kors, and women enjoy them as heritage hand-downs. “I am a very pragmatic person. I like glamour but glamour has to be functional. That is so important when you are heading a brand,” says Michael as he contradicts the ‘designer’ stereotype in his business suit and aviators.
With Michael Kors, he ensures that the collection has a strong, cool quotient, the point being a piece of comfort is something that will pull your carriage 18 hours out of 24 in a day. “I love working with casual wear because that’s how people are dressing these days. Today, women want efficient pieces of clothing: chic, but practical for daily wear. Life is very fast paced and people want to wear clothes in which they feel comfortable.” But that is Michael Kors for you: real, practical and a salesman, known more for his fiery opinion and candour, which drove the audience wild while he was playing a judge on the television show Project Runway.
Michael, now 57, is far from throwing in the towel. There is more from where it comes; this year he launched his first smart watch at the Baselworld. Sensing the potential of Asia, Michael opened his flagship store in Tokyo, Japan, that spans 7,800 sq.m. Soon, the critics took notice, especially as his line called “Collection”, became popular with celebs such as Kate Hudson, Blake Lively and Naomi Watts. However, fashion is not all that this man is about. In between creating collections, new lines, building new stores, Michael Kors keeps his feet on the ground. He does his bit by working with the United Nations World Food Programme to combat starvation.
Michael Kors, the fashion designer, businessman, philanthropist knows what matters at the end, as he says, “When I see a woman wearing Michael Kors on the street, I tell myself that I’m doing my job well.”