The name Michael Kors is heard today even by those who have little to do with the fashion world: thanks to his judging in the popular TV show "Project Runway", the Michael Kors brand became known not only throughout America from Idaho to Texas, but also to the world. Michael Kors is a perfect example of how a charismatic personality of a designer can become almost the main factor in the success of a company, and at the same time bring in by no means a small income - in January 2014 Kors was included in the Forbes list with a personal fortune of one billion dollars. Always charming and open, with a smile that never leaves his face and a bronze tan, Michael Kors met with a Bazaar.ru journalist in New York and spoke about his love for technological innovations, his ability to listen to customers and his idols.
Launch of Smartwatch, camera launch with Fujifilm, and World Food Program activity trackers. It seems that you are seriously carried away by the topic of "smart" gadgets?
I admit, this is really so! It is necessary to constantly surprise the modern buyer, and each of the projects you listed is aimed exactly at this. For example, the idea to create a camera with Fujifilm came for a reason: we noticed that the boom in digital technology and Instagram in particular is being replaced by the desire of people to return to something more tangible - to photographic film, for example. I myself use a film camera all the time when working on new collections, so working with Fujifilm was a pretty logical step. A similar story is with Smartwatch - we know that our customers want to stay connected always, wherever they are, and we decided to create a gadget for them that will be functional and stylish at the same time.
A few years ago, you became the first fashion designer to advertise on Instagram. What motivated your decision? Are you still placing big bets on this app now?
It was three years ago, when Instagram was just starting to be incredibly popular, but we already sensed the trend and decided not to miss this opportunity. When we launched that ad, we knew that more and more people are on Instagram looking for inspiration and something new. We've always had a very active audience on Instagram, and advertising has allowed us to expand it even further. I think Instagram is still relevant today. First of all, because everything here revolves around beautiful images, and who might not like it?
How do you and your brand personally feel the impact of social media on your design aesthetic and business in general?
I like to think social media is such a worldwide trunk show. We have clients from all over the world, and it is through social media that we can keep a conversation with them every day. They can tell us what they like or dislike, and we, in turn, take into account their wishes when developing the brand. Previously, it was simply impossible to imagine such a scenario, but now the audience feels more involved and closer to the brand, which is very valuable.
Today Instagram is still relevant: everything here revolves around beautiful images, who might not like that?
When you first started your career, who was your role model?
It's hard to name just one! I liked Roy Halston: he was always an innovator and one of the main players in American ready-to-wear of the 1970s. Azzedine Alaya is the guru of tailoring and discreet luxury. I was obsessed with the work of photographer Ron Galella - his photographs of Robert Redford, Steve McQueen, Jackie Onassis and Eli McGraw. These people have always looked casual, but at the same time gorgeous in Hollywood.
Today brands are doing everything to please their clients: they organize shows on the principle “from the catwalk to the wardrobe”, change the seasonality, make off-season and capsule collections. Obviously, buyer and sales have become a major factor and motivator in the design industry. Don't you think that there are too many things in the world, and soon people will get tired of such a fast paced fashion industry?
I agree that I myself often feel a certain excess when it comes to modern fashion. But on the other hand, today we can observe many more people who are interested in fashion and style than ever - is that bad? For our part, we are trying to slow down a little the rush of releasing new things. For example, with regard to this year's cruise collection, we did not show most of the images during the presentation - the entire collection could be seen only after it went on sale. But there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of overproduction of clothing. It is up to each designer to find the way that suits their brand better.
Would you like to work for a mass-market brand, as Christophe Lemaire is doing for Uniqlo now? Maybe this is the future of fashion - quality clothes with good design and at an affordable price?
I never say never. But to date, there are no such initiatives in my plans. On the contrary, for now it is more interesting for us to focus on the development of the Michael Michael Kors and Michael Kors collections in order to attract different clients.
Speaking of your second line, in recent years you can observe an interesting trend - many brands are getting rid of their subsidiary lines: for example, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan were closed, Burberry also decided to combine all its lines into one. But you seem to be fine with running the many lines of your brand. Have you ever thought of doing something like that?
There is no line joining in our plans yet. But fashion is constantly evolving and becomes more democratic every day. At some point, we realized that people want a mixture of luxury and mass-market, but at the same time they prefer to make even inexpensive purchases in a truly beautiful store. For most modern women in the wardrobe, an expensive branded bag can be side by side with flip flops. So we thought, why not make a similar mix in our stores? Over the past few years, we have opened many new stores, in which clothing and accessories from the first Michael Kors line are side by side with items at more affordable Michael Michael Kors prices. Buyers like this approach, and this is the main thing.
Fashion is constantly evolving and becoming more democratic every day.
You were one of the first American designers to be recruited by a French fashion house - we are talking about your appointment as the first creative director in the history of Céline in 1997. What advantages do you think you had over your competitors? Why then the choice fell in your favor?
Although Céline is a classic French fashion house, its DNA has always been based on expensive and beautiful sportswear. I've been designing such sportswear all my life. This is my passion. I think that's why I was the best choice for them at that moment.