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QUICK FACTS

Personal Line/Company Founded: 1981
Headquarters: New York
Company Website: michaelkors.com
Store Locator: Michael Kors Store Locator for all stores worldwide

A Jump-Start into the World of Fashion

Michael Kors was born in 1959 on Long Island in New York State. His mother, Joan, a former fashion model, got the toddler jobs in national advertising campaigns for products like Lucky Charms cereal.

 

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Kors in cereal ad

His sense of style grew out of the apparel-industry world in which his mother circulated. At her second wedding, five-year-old Michael advised her to remove the bows from her wedding dress, perhaps considering them not apropos to the occasion. She did, trusting his discerning eye.

As a teen, he designed and created garments, and sold them out of the family basement under his debut business name Iron Butterfly. He consumed everything fashion-related that he could lay his hands on. “I practically hyperventilated every month when Vogue arrived,” he said.

Debut Collection

At the same time that he entered The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, he took a part-time job at Lothar’s, a clothing boutique. Within two semesters, he dropped schooling to work full-time at Lothar’s, creating his own fashion designs and selling them through the shop. By 1981, his unique line – Michael Kors Women’s Collection – was featured in upscale department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, and Lord & Taylor.

 

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Slinky silver-&-black dress with off-center split at top of thigh

After his first fashion show in 1984, celebrities began to follow his flair for style. His classy, ready-wear lines of garments, now designed for both men and women, made him a trailblazer in the ranks of the world’s top fashion designers.

More Ups-&-Downs Than A Hemline

The 1990s brought a severe downturn in business. Many stores that carried his designs closed, and some of his manufacturers stopped making his clothing. Sales dropped drastically and Kors had to file for bankruptcy protection. In the late 1990s, a company called LVMH invested in his company, however, prompting him to create lower-priced lines of clothing. This infusion of financial support and re-branding advice led to a positive turnaround, and by the early 2000s, the company began to grow again.

 

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Lower-priced line of clothing

In 2004, he worked as a judge on the TV show Project Runway, which revitalized his visibility. Since then, Kors has expanded his clothing lines to include swimwear, jeans, shoes, perfume, wallets, luggage, jewelry, watches, eyeglasses, and, of course, handbags.

The Michael Kors Company went public in 2011, and by 2014, Kors reached billionaire status. In January 2019, Michael Kors Holdings Limited changed its name to Capri Holdings Limited, an umbrella company that includes Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, and Versace brands.

Business continues to go up and down, typically capricious of commerce, but Michael Kors rolls with the fashion world’s punches. Much of his success is due to collaboration with other fashion icons, celebrities, and upscale personalities across many markets. And much of it is due to his passion to give people what they want and need, to accommodate both the billionaire and the budget-wise.

Real Clothes for Real People

He observes people all the time – in the streets, in stores, at the airport. How do their clothes fit them? How do they move in them? Do the clothes fit naturally or do they hinder movement? Although he has focused primarily on luxury sportswear, his eye is always intent on people’s practical needs. People live in their clothes. If clothes aren’t comfortable, people won’t wear them, no matter how eye-catching, not as part of their everyday wardrobe.

 

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Practical, comfortable clothing

Michael says, “I’ve always been pragmatic. If someone doesn’t wear it or use it, then I should have been a painter.”

If only more fashion designers recognized the difference between the human body – in all its variety – and a mannequin.

MICHAEL KORS HANDBAGS & PURSES

Kors designs several models for each style, large and small. Find these models here:

 

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A selection of bags

• Tote Bag
• Minaudiere
• Bucket Bag
• Market Bag
• Crossbody
• Shoulder Bag
• Duffel Bag
• Clutch
• Satchel

TRIVIA

Kors was born Karl Anderson, Jr. At the age of five, his last name changed to Kors when his mother remarried, to Bill Kors. When asked if he wanted to change his first and middle names, too, he chose “Michael David.”

 

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Kors as a child with his mother

Kors’ big heart means that he believes in giving back. He’s personally involved with non-profits like God’s Love We Deliver, which prepares and delivers meals to seriously ill New York City residents; and Watch Hunger Stop, partnered with the UN, which has delivered over 17 million meals to children around the world.

 

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“Food is Love” (Watch Hunger Stop)

From the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), he received the 1999 Award for Womenswear Designer of the Year, the 2003 CFDA Award for Menswear Designer of the Year. In 2017, he was the youngest-ever designer to win the CFDA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. His reaction? “Holy crap!”

 

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2021 CFDA Designer Awards

Sources:

Michael Kors
Michael Kors wiki
Fashion in Time: “History of Michael Kors”by Fashion Editor, September 7, 2020
GQ Magazine: “Michael Kors, Fashion Inforno”by Jessica Pressler, October 1, 2019
Biography
The Daily Beast: Michael Kors Wins CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award, July 14, 2017
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