When talking about heavyweights in the fashion industry, the name Michael Kors stands tall. The fashion designer has officially been in the game for 38 years now, but the man’s passion dates back to his childhood days.
Back then, Kors was a confused young lad. At home, his family was ever encouraging him to sketch whatever designs he could. However, when he tried to do the same at school, he was bullied and called all sorts of names.
Luckily for a young Michael, his mom and grandma were always there to support him. As his mom Joan revealed, everyone in the family listened when Michael gave them fashion advice.
For her second wedding, the boy (who was five at the time) redesigned her wedding dress and it was an instant hit. Such were the signs that made Joan believe that her son was destined for greatness.
And by the way, did you know that Michael Kors wasn’t always his name? The fashion designer was born Karl Anderson Jr., but changed his name when his mom remarried. It was actually Joan’s idea, telling her son that since he was changing his surname, he could also change his first name.
Anderson Jr. went on to choose Michael and David for his first and middle names respectively, and from then on, he became Michael David Kors. Who would have thought that the name would become a brand someday?
As a teenager, Michael upped his game by designing and selling clothes out of his mom’s basement. Joan’s vision for her son was slowly clicking into place, but surely not even she could have known that he was soon to conquer the fashion world.
To hone his skillset, Michael enrolled at NYC’s Fashion Institute of Technology in 1977 but dropped out after nine months, probably because he felt ready for the outside world. He then took a job at Lothar’s, where Dawn Mello (Bergdorf Goodman’s fashion director at the time) discovered and promoted his designs.
The Rise of the Brand
Thanks to Mello, Kors was able to develop his pioneer line and Bergdorf Goodman sold the pieces. Come 1981, the young fashion designer was confident enough to start his eponymously named brand, which he described as a blend between Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy.
Closer home, his mom and grandma were the source of his inspiration, with Kors revealing that Joan’s fashion sense was in sync with the former FLOTUS, while her mom’s was more like the actress’.
As we all know, having your brand hit it off with the target market is easier said than done. The early 90s were actually pretty rough for Kors, and his company went bankrupt in 1993. But giving up wasn’t in the designer’s DNA.
He reorganized everything and by 1997, he gained an investor that all companies in fashion would kill for – LVMH. With the partnership came wild success for Kors as he ventured into anything and everything; luxury pieces, beachwear, sportswear, perfume, accessories, name them!
So successful was his brand that by 2014, Michael Kors was the newest billionaire on the block. His brand continues to sell all around the globe, although the man’s net worth is down to $600 million. It’s still mad money, don’t you agree?