Miranda Kerr clutches hers tightly, as do her fellow lingerie models Heidi Klum and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, while actresses Zoe Saldana, Amy Adams and Jessica Chastain have all been spotted with one hanging off their arm. And no, we’re not talking about an A-list boyfriend, but something us non-celebrities can obtain quite easily bags too: the handbag de nos jours by Michael Kors. Look around any office, restaurant or train carriage, and chances are you’ll spot several – the unobtrusively elegant shoulder bags outlet and totes in navy or camel. The odd one will be burgundy red or fuchsia, but all will feature the shiny golden coin-shaped MK logo.
In the not-so-distant past, designer brands maintained their desirability by snootily protecting their exclusivity – unattainability was the basis of their appeal. Kors, however, has disrupted the old model, democratising fashion by selling what he calls ‘everyday luxury’ – a slice of something decadent for a price within reach of many more than a privileged few. A week on a yacht might not be an option, but a bag by Michael Michael Kors (as his accessories range is known) can be. And as a result they are now top sellers in that middle-class bastion of reliable retail John Lewis – which reported a growth of 70 per cent in sales of the range last year and sells an average of 80 replica bags a day – as well as designer fashion haunts such as Selfridges, which sells around 225 of the brand’s Selma replica bags alone every week, and Harvey Nichols, which has seen a 34 per cent increase in demand for Michael Michael Kors replica bags.
It is one of the first days of spring when I arrive at Kors’s offices in New York. It’s sunny but still brisk, and I’m suddenly concerned about what he’ll think of my 100-denier black opaque tights. This, after all, is the man credited with popularising the bare-legs-even-in-winter look – part of the luxury ‘I don’t take the tube’ lifestyle his brand is infused with. The lobby of his Manhattan HQ is deeply resonant of that ethos too, decked out with caramel leather sofas and black and white shots of his fashion favourites bags: Jackie Onassis, her sister Lee Radziwill, Robert Redford and Goldie Hawn (whose daughter Kate Hudson is one of Kors’s coterie of A-listers, a firm fixture on the front row at his shows). I fear I should have worn something more impractical, in camel or cream.
When Kors himself crosses his sunny office to greet me, he is, I am relieved to see, in camouflage trousers and a black sweatshirt; only his tan and his large Rolex scream ‘jet-set’. And, perhaps, the large portrait of himself in his trademark aviators, taking up a central spot on the wall. How does he explain the unprecedented popularity of his bags? ‘A handbag is one of those things that’s utilitarian – we need to be able to transport our stuff – but at the same time it adds personality and glamour,’ he says.
‘People want luxury and quality but not something so precious that they will only ever use it on special occasions. I wouldn’t want a woman to say, “I can’t go to the supermarket carrying this bag outlet,”’ he asserts. ‘She should be able to take it to the gym, to work, wear it at the weekend and outlet…’
There’s another factor in his formula for success: Kors bags has – albeit by chance, he maintains – capitalised on fashion’s sweet spot. According to recent reports, ￡300 is the magic price point at which aspirational shoppers and coveted designer treats meet – Kors’s biggest sellers, the Sutton and the Selma, are ￡285 and ￡315 respectively, while the Riley costs from ￡260. ‘Three hundred pounds is probably that magic spot,’ he agrees. ‘It’s not inexpensive but it’s not so prohibitive that it becomes your once-in-a-lifetime moment.’
‘She’s a watch collector that way,’ he continues. ‘She’s a shoe collector that way. She’ll buy the same cashmere pullover in six colours, if it’s the right one.’ To feed such apparent avarice, he designs several dozen new bags outlet each season, plus four new collections replica bags a year for his significantly more expensive ready-to-wear line.