Published On: Wed, Aug 31st, 2016

How Michael Kors built a $9 billion fashion empire

Learn how the Jewish designer went from school dropout to creating a multi-billion dollar brand.

Michael Kors

 

Unlike many of his fellow visionaries in the world of high fashion, Michael Kors has no desire to make clothes that people don’t actually want to wear.

“When I put on a show or I design a collection, it doesn’t come to life until I see it on the street, ” Kors explains on a sweltering summer day in Manhattan. “I think people gravitate toward what surprises them and feels indulgent, but also to what adds to their sense of style and confidence, something that feels like an old friend you can grab on a regular basis.”

And that wearable approach to modern design—all-American glamour meets sportswear—is no accident. At 57, the Long Island–born icon prides himself on the fact that his art is a business. “I don’t want to sound like the Gurumayi or something, but the reality is: Balance is everything, ” he says. “I try to bring balance to what I design; I try to bring balance to how I approach business.”

And if you happen to appreciate his masterful gifts of observation, on full and hilarious display during his 10-year judgeship on Project Runway (“Not a lot of women want to have cancelled on their crotch”), all the better. As his longtime stylist and collaborator Paul Cavaco puts it, “Michael has balls.”

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