Eat, Love, Prey

The brand-eat-brand world of fash­ion

Red Magazine - - FASHION - WORDS BAMBINA OLIVARES WISE ART NIMU MUALLAM

So Michael Kors bought Jimmy Choo for just over a bil­lion dol­lars. I’d like to say this is a match made in de­signer shoe heaven, but it’s a bit of an ef­fort to sum­mon enough en­thu­si­asm for this deal.

Michael Kors, the de­signer, was once fash­ion’s poster child for how to mount a suc­cess­ful IPO. And then he can­ni­bal­ized his own brand, cre­at­ing sec­ondary lines like Michael, Kors, and MK. And he plas­tered the MK logo on cheaper copies of his own sig­na­ture line of bags and ac­ces­sories.

Some­thing was lost in the Coach-ifi­ca­tion of Michael Kors; one can un­der­stand why Reed Krakoff needed to es­tab­lish his name­sake lux­ury la­bel with a de­sign sig­na­ture worlds away from Coach’s ubiquitous C’s, and at a price point that whis­pered, “Toto, we’re not in a sub­ur­ban shop­ping mall any­more.” Alas, that was not enough to en­sure his brand’s longevity. In a round of sur­vival of the fittest, re­tail edi­tion, Reed Krakoff un­for­tu­nately could not sus­tain his busi­ness and the de­signer closed his brand in 2015. Coach, how­ever, is still in ev­ery air­port and ev­ery depart­ment store around the world.

Not that there’s any­thing wrong with Coach, mind you. It’s re­li­able and pre­dictable, but it’s not ex­cit­ing. You see a Coach bag and you think, “Hmmm, I re­ally need a bag. An ev­ery­day bag. This will do.” Whereas Reed Krakoff—or Jimmy Choo, for that mat­ter— al­ways el­e­vated the ev­ery­day.

Yet there is some trep­i­da­tion that the lux­ury shoe brand now runs the risk of be­com­ing, well, pedes­trian. Will Kors add a sec­ondary line, Choo Jimmy Choo? Will he fes­toon buck­les with the “JC” logo in gilt? Will he add wal­lets, coin purses, and key rings in a sig­na­ture JC can­vas print to be sold at air­ports ev­ery­where?

This way of think­ing is, ad­mit­tedly, rather un­fair to Kors’ busi­ness savvy, not to men­tion his prodi­gious tal­ent. His ac­qui­si­tion of Jimmy Choo comes as a bit of a shock as the de­signer had never given any in­di­ca­tion that he wanted to cre­ate a multi-brand fash­ion con­glom­er­ate of his own; Jimmy Choo may just be the first brand in this new port­fo­lio. More­over, years af­ter the IPO high, Michael Kors’ re­tail busi­ness has been strug­gling, with stock prices down af­ter Wall Street an­a­lysts down­graded the com­pany less than a year ago fol­low­ing a dis­ap­point­ing earn­ings re­lease.

The ac­qui­si­tion will nev­er­the­less make Kors a ma­jor player in the lux­ury footwear mar­ket, and will also give him a new av­enue for in­ter­na­tional growth, what with its 150 stores around the world.

Jimmy Choo was es­tab­lished in 1996 by Ta­mara Mel­lon and the Lon­don-based Malaysian shoe­maker Jimmy Choo, and quickly at­tracted high-pro­file devo­tees such as Princess Di­ana and Sarah Jes­sica Parker. The brand has since gone through sev­eral own­ers and CEOs, with both Mel­lon and Choo be­ing kicked out of the lux­ury house they both founded at dif­fer­ent times.

While too young to be con­sid­ered a her­itage brand, Jimmy Choo does have a dis­tinct sig­na­ture. Kors cited his ad­mi­ra­tion of “the glam­orous style and trend­set­ting na­ture of its de­signs,” so it’s fair to as­sume that he would be re­spect­ful of the level of lux­ury the brand rep­re­sents. Af­ter all, Kors was once cre­ative di­rec­tor of the leg­endary Paris house, Cé­line.

Will Kors add a sec­ondary line, Choo Jimmy Choo? Will he fes­toon buck­les with the “JC” logo in gilt? Will he add wal­lets, coin purses, and key rings in a sig­na­ture JC can­vas print to be sold at air­ports ev­ery­where?

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