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How fashion icon Michael Kors turned a small boutique in his mom’s basement into a $5.78 billion global fashion company
Michael Kors closed out New York Fashion Week with his spring/summer 2020 collection this September. It was his 41st NYFW fashion show. In the 38 years since he started out as a fashion designer, Kors has designed for multiple brands, he’s taken his own company public, and he’s even starred as a judge on Bravo’s reality series, “Project Runway.” Kors reached billionaire status in 2014, but most recent estimates put him closer to a net worth of $600 million today. The Michael Kors Holding Company made headlines in 2018 when it announced the purchase of Versace and changed its name to Capri Holdings. As of September 2019, Capri Holdings had a market cap of $5.78 billion. From a small boutique in his mother’s basement to luxury retail shops around the world, here’s how the designer rose to fashion industry stardom and reached billionaire status, and what he’s up to now. Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories. Michael Kors started designing clothes in his childhood and has since turned the passion into a global fashion empire that contributes to his current estimated net worth of $600 million as of 2018.Foto: Michael Kors pictured above.sourceGetty Images / Rob KimSource: Celebrity Net WorthIn December 2011, Kors took his company public. It traded under the ticker KORS and was valued at $3.5 billion.Foto: Michael Kors at the New York Stock Exchange.sourceRichard Drew/APSource: Business of Fashion, 92YThis was the biggest ever public offer in fashion. When fashion consultant, Fern Mallis, asked Kors what he thought about the business milestone, he answered, “Keep your eye on the ball, and you do what you do, and you do it well.”Foto: Kors outside the New York Stock Exchange.sourceAP ImagesSource: 92YIn 2018, the public Michael Kors Holdings company — which owned its namesake brand, Michael Kors …Foto: Michael Kors storefront.sourceMike Blake/Reuters… along with luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo …Foto: Jimmy Choo storefront.sourceSpencer Platt/Getty Images… announced a new acquisition: Versace. With this addition to its portfolio, the company changed its name to Capri Holdings.Foto: The change in name took effect in January, 2019.sourceScott Olson/Staff/Getty ImagesSource: ForbesWhile Michael Kors is a clothing brand that has been around since 1981, it’s designer has a story that dates back to 1959.Foto: Michael Kors and Emily Ratajkowski (left).sourceAndrew Kelly/ReutersHis story starts in Merrick, Long Island, where he was born Karl Anderson Jr.Foto: Michael Kors pictured above.sourceKeith Beaty/Contributor/Getty ImagesSource: Telegraph, Michael KorsIn a 1991 interview with People magazine, the designer said he changes his name when his mother married Bill Kors. “My mother said, ‘You’re getting a new last name, so why don’t you pick a new first name?'”Foto: He said Michael and David were his mother’s favorites, so he chose them as his first and middle names respectively.sourceMario Ruiz/Contributor/Getty ImagesSource: Vogue UKKors attended Kennedy High School until 1977 when he started classes at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology. After spending nine months at the fashion school, he left to pursue selling his own designs at Manhattan retailer, Lothar’s.Foto: The Fashion Institute of Technology is in central Manhattan.sourceDia Dipasupil/Getty ImagesSource: Patch, Harper’s BazaarOne day, while Kors was setting up a window display at Lothar’s on 57th Street, Dawn Mello — fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman at the time — tapped on the window and asked who designed the clothes. Kors admitted they were his and Mello then helped him develop his first line that would then be sold in Bergdorf’s.Foto: Kors holds one of his designs.sourceNewsday LLC/Contributor/Getty ImagesSource: Business of Fashion, Vogue, “Scatter my ashes at Bergdorf Goodman”In 1981, Kors started his eponymous brand. He showed for the first time on a runway in 1984.Foto: Applause for Kors after a show.sourceKeith Beaty/Contributor/Getty ImagesSource: Harper’s BazaarKors described his design aesthetic as a mix between Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor — saying his mom, Joan, was more like the former, and his grandmother like the latter.Foto: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (left) and Elizabeth Taylor (right) pictured above.sourceAssociated Press and Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesSource: 92YKors said that at five years old, he redesigned his mother’s wedding dress. According to his brand’s website, he told her to ditch the bows for her second wedding, and she did. His mother, Joan, told ABC News that when Kors gave design advice, everyone listened.Foto: A young Michael pictured above at his mother’s wedding.sourcescreenshot via HuluSource: Vogue, Michael Kors, ABC NewsBut it wasn’t all praise for the budding designer growing up. He told ABC News he was bullied outside the home and called “every name in the book.”Foto: Kors with Hilary Swank (left) and Anna Wintour (right).sourceCharles Sykes/Invision/APSource: ABC NewsHe said it was confusing for him growing up because he was so supported by his family at home, but when he wanted to sketch instead of play sports at school, the other kids ostracized him.Foto: Michael Kors in his signature look.sourceCaitlin Ochs/ReutersSource: ABC NewsKors told ABC News that he wants to help kids going through similar struggles. He has become involved with the It Gets Better Project and hopes to help even just one young person who’s struggling and let them know, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”Foto: Marchers walk down 5th Avenue as they part in the 2019 World Pride NYC and Stonewall 50th LGBTQ Pride Parade in New YorksourceReutersSource: It Gets Better Project, ABC NewsEven in the face of bullies, Kors was true to himself and opened his first store at the age of 11. The designer told Mallis at 92Y that it was called the Iron Butterfly Boutique and it was in his mother’s basement.Foto: A Michael Kors store in New York City.sourceDaniel Goodman/Business Insider.comSource: Racked, Vogue“I was very crafty,” he told Mallis, “so I made fabulous candles, I made whip-stitched leather bags, I made hammered copper bracelets … I set the whole thing up in the basement of our house in the suburbs, and I invited all the kids from the neighborhood to come over and I sold everything in like a week.”Foto: Mallis interviewed Kors at the 92nd Street Y in 2012.source92nd Street Y/YouTubeSource: 92YKors also talked about having a mustard and chocolate color scheme for his Bar Mitzvah in the ’70s. “Every decade has its good points and its bad points … the good: Halston. The Bad: mustard and chocolate.” He went on: “Down to the invitations, the yarmulkes, the matches, the tablecloths, it was a pretty insane moment.”Foto: He looked back on a color scheme he wouldn’t go near today.source92nd Street Y/YouTubeSource: Racked, 92YWhile the ’70s were tough for Kors to think about from an aesthetic standpoint, the ’90s were tough for him from a business standpoint.Foto: Michael Kors storefront.sourceRichard Drew, File/APSource: ABC News, Harper’s Bazaar, Business of FashionHe told ABC News that he had high expectations for the ’90s, but a financial crisis hit his business hard and it was struggling. “It was a domino effect,” he said. “And then the next thing you knew, it was all about nose rings and ugly. I mean, it was a trifecta of a nightmare for me.”Foto: Kors gives an interview during a fashion show.sourceSeth Wenig/APSource: ABC News, Harper’s BazaarIn 1993, Kors’s company filed for bankruptcy protection. An Italian company decided to stop selling Kors’s lower-priced line, and without that income, there was no other option for the brand, Kors told The New York Times. But rather than give up, he simply reorganized.Foto: Kors worked to restructure his brand.sourceSeth Wenig/APSource: The New York Times, Business of FashionIn 1997, Kors’s company gained an investor: LVMH. With both financial and business support from the luxury group, Michael Kors launched a low-priced line.Foto: Kors thanks his audience during fashion week.sourceBebeto Matthews/APSource: Harper’s Bazaar, LVMHAs part of the LVMH family, Kors was tapped in 1997 to design for another group in-brand: Céline. He became increasingly known for his “luxurious sportswear,” which he brought with him to the French label.Foto: Kors at one of his Céline runway shows.sourceStephane Cardinale – Corbis/Contributor/Getty ImagesSource: CR Fashion BookCR Fashion Book pointed out how Kors’s spring collections at Céline featured lots of beach-inspired looks.Foto: He told Mallis that as a Leo and a summer baby, he is “a beach boy at heart.”sourceNew York Daily News Archive/Contributor/Getty ImagesSource: CR Fashion Book, Racked, 92YIn 1998, he became Céline’s creative director and has been credited with totally revamping the brand with his ready-to-wear.Foto: Michael Kors backstage in Paris, France.sourceSwan/Contributor/Getty ImagesSource: Harper’s BazaarIn 2003, Sportswear Holdings Ltd. bought a majority stake in Kors’s company, and he left Céline in 2004 to give his full attention to his namesake brand.Foto: He said he felt “neglected” by LVMH while at Céline.sourceKathy Willens/APSource: Harper’s Bazaar, CR Fashion BookThat year, MICHAEL Michael Kors launched — which ran counter to the price point of his first label and actually continued to sell during the recession.Foto: Kors with Isaac Mizrahi, Oscar de la Renta, Todd Oldham, Anna Sui, Donna Karan, and Calvin Klein.sourceRon Galella, Ltd./Contributor/Getty ImagesSource: Harper’s BazaarHe also started selling accessories and perfume in 2004.Foto: Michael Kors handbag.sourceEduardo Parra/GettySource: Harper’s BazaarAlso in 2004, Kors made a name for himself in TV when he joined the panel of judges on reality show, “Project Runway.”Foto: Kors with castmates, Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, and Tim Gunn.sourceDonald Traill/Invision/APSource: Harper’s BazaarWhile he was working on the show, Kors got married. In 2011 the designer married Lance LePere in Southampton, Long Island. The two shared a low-key, double wedding with two of their friends.Foto: Kors (left) and husband Lance LePere (right).sourceDemis Maryannakis/STAR MAX/APSource: 92YKors told Mallis he was married barefoot in a black T-shirt and white shorts. He said that he and LePere got married on the beach, “jumped in a Jeep, drove to East Hampton, ate pizza at Sam’s, and went to go see ‘The Help.'”Foto: Lance LePere (left) and Michael Kors (right) at a Halloween party.sourceAndy Kropa/Invision/APSource: 92YKors was married the same year his company went public. He continued to work as a judge on “Project Runway” until 2012.Foto: Kors with fellow judges Klum (center) and Garcia (right).sourceJason DeCrow/APSource: Harper’s BazaarIn 2014, Kors reached billionaire status due to the success of his public company.Foto: But his net worth dropped below $1 billion in 2015.sourceKathy Willens/APSource: ForbesIn 2015, the company was on the rise, generating a reported $4.5 billion in net sales.Foto: Actress Kristin Davis (left) and Michael Kors in 2000.sourcePatrick McMullan/Contributor/Getty ImagesSource: Business of FashionJust two years later, in 2017, Michael Kors Holdings announced they would be closing 125 stores. Sales and stock prices were nosediving — but it wasn’t an issue unique to Michael Kors, it was happening to more than two-dozen brick-and-mortar retailers across the US.Foto: Michael Kors windows were often plastered with sale signs.sourceAP Photo/John MinchilloSource: CBS NewsBut in 2018, the company decided to phase out the major discounts that became synonymous with its name. Business Insider reported that heavy sales were tarnishing the reputation of certain once-luxury brands like Michael Kors and made them less desirable.Foto: Kors and Kate Hudson at the Met Gala.sourceLarry Busacca/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderWith the $2 billion acquisition of Versace, Capri Holdings is trying to increase its revenue and its reputation as a big player in the luxury fashion space.Foto: Donatella Versace pictured above.sourceCarlo Allegri/ReutersSource: Business InsiderToday, Michael Kors the man is worth an estimated $600 million.Foto: Kors with supermodel Bella Hadid.sourceAndrew Kelly/ReutersSource: Celebrity Net WorthIn 2018, he showed off his West Village, Manhattan, apartment during a tour led by Architectural Digest.Foto: Kors said this is the “hangout room” for himself and LePere.sourceArchitectural Digest/YouTubeSource: Architectural DigestHe and LePere spend their fortune on art, like this sculpture they bought at a flea market in France …Foto: Wood is used throughout their home.sourceArchitectural Digest/YouTubeSource: Architectural Digest… and the many photographs they have hanging on their walls. Kors said he has collected photography for more than thirty years.Foto: “Photos, photos, photos everywhere,” Kors said in the interview.sourceArchitectural Digest/YouTubeSource: Architectural DigestHis collection even includes a signed photo of Elizabeth Taylor.Foto: It reads, “To Michael, you are a very special man. I love you.”sourceArchitectural Digest/YoutubeSource: Architectural DigestThe apartment features a sleek, modern kitchen, but Kors says neither he nor LePere cooks. He jokes, “What’s my favorite thing to make for dinner? It’s reservations.”Foto: White and tan is the color scheme for their kitchen.sourceArchitectural Digest/YouTubeSource: Architectural DigestIn keeping with his famously classic and chic design aesthetic, Kors says he loves having black bowls in his kitchen to fill with brightly colored things like lemons.Foto: He says he has a “bowl obsession” that carries through the whole home.sourceArchitectural Digest/YouTubeSource: Architectural DigestThe designer has an affinity for black clothing …Foto: He’s got black jackets in many different fabrics.sourceArchitectural Digest/YouTubeSource: Architectural Digest… and he’s often caught wearing aviator sunglasses. He showed Architectural Digest his drawers and drawers of sunglasses, which he said most people tell him all look the same. “I know the difference,” he said. “It makes me happy.”Foto: Kors said each pair is slightly different.sourceArchitectural Digest/YouTubeSource: Architectural DigestThe apartment features the ultimate New York City luxury element: outdoor space. Kors says he’s got a green thumb but admits he has a lot of help when it comes to his garden.Foto: The view from Kors and LePere’s terrace.sourceArchitectural Digest/YouTubeSource: Architectural DigestKors keeps his roots close to him in subtle ways. He has a painting hanging in his dining room that nods to his professional growth — “It’s a 1981,” he said, “the year I started my business.”Foto: Guests see this when they walk inside from the terrace.sourceArchitectural Digest/YouTubeSource: Architectural DigestSince those early days in the ’80s, Kors has been building up friendships with some of the industry’s most iconic leaders. And even though it’s now decades later, he’s got a level-headed mindset when it comes to his industry: Fashion is “the right thing at the right time,” he told Vogue.Foto: Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar Glenda Bailey (left) Michael Kors in 2002.sourceGeorge De Sota/Staff/Getty ImagesSource: Harper’s Bazaar, VogueThe post How fashion icon Michael Kors turned a small boutique in his mom’s basement into a $5.78 billion global fashion company appeared first on Business Insider Nederland.
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