Michael Kors Talks Designing for the Fast-Paced Chinese Market

The designer was full of energy and confidence the day before his runway show and first flagship opening in Shanghai.
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Eliza Brooke
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The designer was full of energy and confidence the day before his runway show and first flagship opening in Shanghai.
Michael Kors. Photo: Getty

Michael Kors. Photo: Getty

If you're a luxury brand and you aren't planning an over-the-top runway show and flagship opening in Shanghai, you're doing it wrong. At least, that's the way it's starting to seem. Two weeks after Burberry pulled out all the stops for its Shanghai show — Lights! Digital! Cara Delevingne flying through the air! — Michael Kors is readying for his own runway presentation, which will take place this Friday in a jet hangar at Hongqiao International Airport. 

The show coincides with the opening of Kors's first flagship in Shanghai. In a live-streamed interview with Business of Fashion editor Imran Amed, Kors expressed his excitement about the rapidity with which the Chinese market is changing. 

"I'm concerned with markets where people are curious and thirsty," Kors says. "When you think about a fast life, [China] is the epicenter of a fast life. I'm always intrigued to design for that kind of consumer."

"New York is quiet and sleepy compared to Shanghai," he adds.

Kors says that the Chinese market favors a balance of New York designers' pragmatism and Parisian indulgence, two approaches to design that he learned at the helm of his own brand and during his tenure at Céline, respectively. As for operating at full speed, that's a skill he honed on the set of Project Runway, where he had to form opinions on the fly. 

As for that slowdown in Chinese interest in luxury brands, Kors isn't worried. In fact, his lower-priced offerings and focus on wearability could be an advantage as he invests more in the market.

"I still think newness counts for a lot in China," Kors says. "You have a cooldown on some brands that have been here for a long time that people are bored with... We're dealing with a mix of product that has a range of prices that makes us accessible to a huge range of people. If there's a slowdown, I think it's an opportunity." 

It seems like Kors is ready to take China at full throttle.