Versace by Michael Kors: Multi-Billion Dollar Fashion Buyout Turns Heads
Michael Kors, the purveyor of uninspired and base handbags for midwestern debutantes and those who think Kate Spade is too flamboyant, has spent $2.12 billion on Italian luxury fashion giant Versace. This headline had the fashion world in a tizzy last week, with the majority of people concluding that this meant Versace would soon lose its luster and find its way onto the shelves of TJ Maxx. That conclusion obviously comes from those who just read the headlines and not comes after. Kors, really Capri Holdings, will be good for Versace because it will be able to provide some much-needed financial stability.
From the 1990s to 2011 the brand saw a decline in sales and entertained the idea of taking the company public. In 2014 the Versace family was forced to sell a 20 percent stake in the company to Blackstone, a deal that evaluated Versace at $1.4 billion.
Versace has become a mainstay in recent years. The rise of “logomania” provided Versace’s signature glitz to explode and permeate into the world’s zeitgeist; something it hasn’t been able to do since the tragic and very public murder of its founder Gianni Versace. After Versace's death, the brand went under the creative direction of Donatella Versace, who will stay on as creative director.
Versace has always been a brand that is about being seen. Using prints and patterns of gold chains, crystal embellishments and silhouettes that left little to the imagination and the now-iconic Medusa head, it’s hard not to turn heads and break necks while wearing it. These aesthetic themes and motifs gave the brand personality. That personality was one that was larger than life and carried a swagger rivalled by none – a natural fit for hip-hop. In 2013 Migos released their debut single “Versace” for their mixtape “Y.R.N.” and most recently Bruno Mars’ released his single “Versace on the Floor,” which went platinum in 2017. Most recently the brand released its new chunky sneaker model, the Chain React, which was first shown on the feet of rapper 2 Chainz.
There is concern that Kors, whose brand has the same street cred and style of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, might dirty the opulent waters of Versace. This is far from the case. In 2017 Capri Holdings bought luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo. since the acquisition Jimmy Choo has collaborated with Off-White for their SS18 women’s collection. Off-White is hailed as one of the first brands to bridge the gap between streetwear and high fashion. Given that and the fact that Sandra Choi, the creative director of Jimmy Choo since 2013, has maintained the same aesthetic, shows that Capri Holdings has a very hands-off approach when it comes to the design process.
Kors’ Capri Holdings buying Versace won’t have a negative effect on the house’s relevance, rather, a positive one. Versace flourishes in times of vanity. Its loud looks are perfect for any style conscious Instagram influencer trying to get the maximum amount of likes and comments on a post. But, vanity in fashion is a trend, and it will eventually lose its luster. When it does, and Versace has to put out minimalistic white low-tops to make money, it’s going to feel off-brand. Financial insulation from Capri Holdings will allow Versace to stay true to its garish self during times when fashion trends wain toward minimalism.
The financial support that the house will receive is the main reason Michael Kors and Versace are going to work, but there’s also the fact that the two brands really aren’t that different. Sure, aesthetically Kors and Versace are two wildly different brands, but in terms of creative direction, they have similar practices. Versace recently released their “Vintage Logo” as a part of their ready-to-wear collections. The logo has no history with the brand, it was just recently made and slapped on t-shirt and sweatshirts because that’s what’s in. Look at Kors’ Michael Kors Collection and you’ll see similarly uninspired pieces. Granted the MK logo doesn’t have the same clout that Versace’s does, but when you start making pussy-bow tops and selling them for $895 on 5th Avenue to Melania Trump fans, it makes you think, maybe MK does have some clout, just not with Versace’s crowd.