Byline: Kathleen Boyes, January 1989

In this business, people want to put a label on you,” said designer Michael Kors. “When I first started, I was lumped into the new and young category. Yes, I’m young, but I don’t do kicky clothes. They’re young and sophisticated, but definitely not zany.”
Whereas Kors’s clothes are decidedly sleek and streamlined, he is colorfully animated, with curly blond hair, sparkling blue eyes and a mischievous grin that punctuates every thought.
At 29 years old, Kors is already approaching the end of his first decade with his own label. It has been Kors’s strong design vision and ever-pragmatic business acumen that has sustained the eight-year-old company that this year will generate $11 million in wholesale volume. His main collection — and he holds the majority interest — will yield $8 million, and the rest will come from his cashmere licensee with Lyle & Scott and fur licensee with Birger Christensen.
Kors takes a traditional approach to designing. “I don’t think clothes should ever be from totally out in left field. That’s not modern. When you consider the price of the clothes, people are not as quick to dispose of them. They should be more timeless….
“Women used to shop for entertainment,” he went on. “Feeling blue? Let’s buy a new dress. Well, that’s all changed. Women need clothes they can live in. They also want it quick and edited for them.”
Simplicity is another key element of Kors’s design philosophy. His designs are usually spare, and he doesn’t believe in excessively large collections.
“I don’t think you need a lot of clothes,” explained Kors. “The more you own, the more difficult it is. I’d rather have a jacket that can take me from Los Angles to New York. And when I design, I strive for that perfect jacket, or those perfect pants.”