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Celebrated American fashion designer Michael Kors talks AW18 fashion and future trends as he brings menswear to his namesake brand’s recently relocated Dubai store
Eduan R. Maggo
October isn’t generally the most exciting month on the fashion calendar, but for one man and one company, autumn 2018 spells the dawn of a new period. This month Michael Kors brings a menswear selection to Dubai, as the company welcomes a new chief for that segment and acquires one of the biggest brands in the world — Versace.
Michael Kors recently launched its newly relocated outpost at The Dubai Mall, a move that excites the American designer. “Our store in The Dubai Mall gives us the opportunity to reach both locals and international tourists, and we think they’ll all appreciate the casual luxury and refined styles they’ll find in the store,” Kors tells Debonair.
“With social media and the fact that we are all travelling much more than ever before — both physically and virtually through the device in our hands — we see that there are fewer and fewer differences between what our customers around the world want.
“Of course, there are geographical differences, so we stock more coats in Moscow than in Miami, but in terms of trends and the pieces they love, our customers are pretty similar.”
The company has a store presence in some of the most prestigious cities in the world, including New York, London, Milan, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Seoul and Rio de Janeiro. That said, the brand’s reach aligns with the broader seasonless approach fashion is adopting. “Because we have stores all over the world, and because truthfully our customers are travelling so often, we’re starting to design each season in a way that most of the looks can be dismantled and paired in different ways to make them work year-round,” says the honorary chairman and chief creative officer of the eponymous company he started in 1981.
For the AW18 collection currently in stores, Kors looked to his own wardrobe. “It was about taking the iconic pieces that you find in a man’s wardrobe and giving them a twist,” he says. “It has a casual-luxe attitude, so he can be put together and polished but sort of dressed down at the same time.”
The collection features very strong accessories, and shows a focus on pieces that can finish one look but that can also stand independently and be incorporated into other looks. “We played a lot with accessories in this collection because we’re seeing now that men are collecting bags, they’re collecting belts,” the 59-year-old explains. “They understand the idea that a great accessory can really be a look-changer. Accessories are key in today’s casual world.”
A hallmark of the collection is the interesting take on prints — especially the play on camo and plaids. “When I’m designing menswear, I always say it’s more about evolution than revolution. We’re looking at how we can change something just a little — a new fabrication or a change in colour.
“So we have camo, but we did it in warmer chestnut hues and charcoal that really bring it into the city and make it feel a little more polished.”
Texture remains a key part of Kors’ design aesthetic, an element he runs with as the colder months invite more layering. “Texture is, for me, really what autumn is all about, and this season we took the idea of texture mix to the max. For menswear in particular we are thinking about how we get the texture without the weight, so we have mohair sweaters that are lightweight and leather bonded back to jersey.
“Fashion is a reflection of the world we live in, and life today is fast. I think that’s why we’ve seen streetwear, and before that athleisure, become such an integral piece of the fashion landscape. And life isn’t getting any slower, so I think we’ll continue to see streetwear and other urban-based trends make their way into luxury fashion.”
The campaign for the collection marks the first time the brand has commissioned different photographers for its labels, following its commitment earlier this year to not working with longtime collaborator Mario Testino again after sexual misconduct allegations surfaced. Instead, New York-based photographer Lachlan Bailey shot the MICHAEL Michael Kors and Michael Kors Men’s campaigns featuring models Andreea Diaconu and Baptiste Radufe. “It was a very natural partnership,” says Kors.
“Lachlan’s images have a sense of immediacy and intimacy that made him an obvious choice to help us evoke a sense of daily life in New York City.”
Meanwhile, Michael Kors Holdings last month appointed Andrea Pesaresi as President of Michael Kors Men’s. Pesaresi, who spent 25 years at Ermenegildo Zegna, was most recently CEO of Philippe Model. “It is a very exciting time in the men’s industry, and the Michael Kors iconic brand DNA provides a great foundation for growth,” Pesaresi said in a statement.
He joins Michael Kors on October 15. “Andrea has been in the industry for 30 years and comes to us with extensive knowledge of the evolving luxury men’s marketplace. Andrea will provide the necessary leadership to enable us to achieve our goal of developing the Michael Kors menswear business to $1 billion in revenue,” added chairman and CEO John D. Idol.
Then, just as we were heading to press, the company announced an agreement to acquire Italian luxury fashion house Gianni Versace, long considered one of the world’s leading luxury fashion companies, for about $2.12 billion. Following the acquisition, Michael Kors Holdings will be known as Capri Holdings.
Going forward, the Michael Kors brand intends to engage customers in further dialogue that could shape future collections. “We’ll be continuing to speak with our menswear customers and anticipate what they want and need,” Kors tells Debonair over email.
“We are always looking to push the needle and fill the holes they’re finding in their wardrobes.”
As for the confluence of fashion and technology, he doesn’t rule out adding wearable devices to the Michael Kors brand portfolio that spans men’s and womenswear, accessories and beauty products. “We’re focusing on our Michael Kors Access smartwatches right now, but we always have our eyes and ears open for what our customers will need in the coming seasons.”
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