SOLID STATE

In this ex­clu­sive, Pre­view chats with Michael Kors about his vi­sion for his brand and why his stay­ing power is un­like any other.

Preview (Philippines) - - Preview November -

We shed some light on why Michael Kors re­mains a force to be reck­oned with.

in an in­dus­try where rel­e­vance is just as (if not more) cru­cial than be­ing trend­driven, it’s im­per­a­tive for de­sign­ers to have a strong con­nec­tion with their clien­tele. Many have won­dered (and still do) how Michael Kors has been able to do it for 37 years. Aside from the charisma and the pas­sion, he says it’s all about main­tain­ing his vi­sion. “Con­sis­tency is key for de­sign­ers be­cause it al­lows your cus­tomers to trust you,” he ex­plains. “I’ve al­ways known what I wanted to de­sign and for whom I wanted to de­sign: glam­orous sports­wear for the ul­ti­mate jet-set­ter. Clothes that could keep up with ev­ery­day life but still look great.” Mak­ing the clothes work for the wearer in­stead of the other way around is key to Michael’s stay­ing power. “Even on the red car­pet, if we had two [op­tions for] dresses, I would say to an ac­tress, ‘Okay, which one feels more like you? If you feel like you’re in your own skin, you’re go­ing to look bet­ter. Al­ways.’” He adds, “My cus­tomers al­ways know what they want. They are smart, con­fi­dent and can do a mil­lion things at once and make it look easy. They de­mand com­fort, qual­ity and lux­ury and they need clothes that can keep up with their life­style. But above and be­yond all that, they love glam­our, and we give them [the kind of] glam­our that works for their lives.”

Be­cause fash­ion con­tin­u­ously shifts to match the times, Michael knows that he needs to con­stantly move just as fast, if not faster. “[When I was younger], you would see pic­tures of Jackie Kennedy, par­tic­u­larly when she was mar­ried to [Aris­to­tle] Onas­sis, [or] of El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor, and these women were al­ways on the go, on the move. Be­fore that, when you thought about wealth, it was about a slow life. It was about get­ting on a ship with trunks, [which was] very for­mal. And sud­denly, [trav­el­ing in style] was about white jeans and a black T-shirt, but very glam­orous. I think that was the be­gin­ning of life in the fast lane. So now, we de­sign for a life that’s fast, where peo­ple want to look glam­orous and feel great, but it has to func­tion.” Michael says his jet-set aes­thetic has al­ways leaned to­ward sports­wear, and ex­plains, “[Now] when we say sports­wear, it doesn’t re­ally mean it’s just for sport, it’s just an at­ti­tude of a fash­ion that is built for move­ment and speed.”

Michael’s jour­ney wasn’t easy. Since his de­par­ture from de­sign school af­ter two semesters, he went from work­ing in re­tail, then be­ing crowned as the new fash­ion in­genue by Anna Win­tour in the ’80s, to fil­ing for bank­ruptcy and hav­ing to re­strate­gize and re­or­ga­nize his com­pany. He then be­came the cre­ative di­rec­tor of French fash­ion house Cé­line, to be­ing one of the judges for 10 sea­sons of Project Runway, and earn­ing in ex­cess of a bil­lion dol­lars from his com­pany (as of press time, his hold­ing com­pany’s ac­qui­si­tion of Jimmy Choo has gen­er­ated a new level of in­ter­est in his brand). In spite of ev­ery­thing he has been through, one thing is cer­tain: Michael has no plans of tak­ing it easy. And why should he? “Fash­ion’s rules have dis­ap­peared,” he muses. There goes one less thing to slow him down.

In Asia, I think the cus­tomer doesnt have so many rules—shes al­ways ex­per­i­ment­ing and try­ing some­thing new, and thats ex­cit­ing. In Amer­ica, a 20-year-old nor­mally wouldnt be as so­phis­ti­cated. Its just the re­al­ity.”

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