Eat, Love, Prey
The brand-eat-brand world of fashion
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?