Fast over fabulous: The problem with fashion mergers

Michael Kors Holdings Limited bought luxury brand Versace for $ 2.1 billion, and quality has truly gone down the (money) drain.


by Mckenzie Heffron , Staff Writer

   “I don’t license everywhere. I take care of my name.” Gianni Versace, founder of the fashion house Versace, spoke these words when asked about his business in 1997. Even at his peak, he stuck to the idea that all did was make beautiful clothes. For him, it was quality over quantity. That’s why the brand’s latest move is so shocking and ultimately disappointing.

   On Sept. 25, Versace, now headed by Gianni Versace’s sister Donatella, announced they were transferring ownership to Michael Kors Limited Holdings for $2.1 billion. To me, this is another nail in the coffin of luxury fashion, which has been dying slowly for nearly 25 years thanks to brands like Michael Kors.

   At its height, Versace represented the mid-nineties. Every show featured a squad of instantly recognizable supermodels in slinky printed creations made from mesh and jersey. However, it was over-the-top in look alone. The fall 1997 haute couture runway lasted three minutes. The spring ready-to-wear show just a few weeks ago was over triple that time. Why? Because fashion has become a commodity.

   The first runway show I ever watched was a Versace show. I remember every outfit, dramatic purple trains and cigarette pants. I was captivated. The outfits served as inspiration for me—something I could imitate. Had Versace been the same thing as the wholesale brand Michael Kors is now, I never would have felt that. Versace exudes genuineness, evidenced by the spring 2018 show, titled the Versace Tribute. This brand was, and remains, Gianni Versace’s baby.

   Part of this shift from a painstaking process to a mass-produced copy is because major conglomerates are buying out iconic fashion houses. But it goes beyond a merger. Often, parent companies make huge changes to a brand after a sale. Michael Kors is no exception. With the Versace sale, Kors announced the opening of more than 100 stores. This only proves the fast-fashion model taking over has become a danger to hardworking designers. At 11 years old, I quit wanting to be a fashion designer because I didn’t believe the world cared about authentic clothes. I don’t believe that now, as I look around and see H+M tops (they use child labor—another issue), Fashion Nova pants (the epitome of fashion middle-men), and, not kidding, fake Gucci JUUL skins from Amazon (like vaping is okay in the first place). None of these brands care about the quality of what they sell,  as long as we keep buying.

   Kors also announced he would be focusing more on shoes and handbags, far cheaper to make than chainmail dresses crafted in Italy. The Michael Kors brand has the largest markets in these areas. I’m sure you’ve been into a Marshalls and seen a Michael Kors purse hanging from a hook. You would buy that purse because it meets your purse requirements, not because it is an achievement.

   Brands like Versace are precisely the opposite: they represent something earned. To me, buying a Versace jacket means working hard enough to contribute to show off your personal taste, style and life story in something that lasts for years. If everyone is walking around with a Versace purse, the magic disappears.

   Fashion used to be a journey to discover your clothing identity. I remember my middle school years, when I wore calf-high Converse with capri jeans. No, it didn’t look good, but I felt good. That’s what mattered. This was what Gianni Versace strived for: in every collection, he sent out clothes to make women feel beautiful. Even if you could never afford those clothes, it served as a place you could base your style from. My personal taste has changed thanks to runways like Versace. Michael Kors’ plans for the brand show big business at its most hazardous because it infringes on the original model of the company.

   The changes Michael Kors plans to make to the brand Versace reverse the idea that clothes should be quality. When fashion is driven by capitalism, it loses its integrity. Is a life goal of yours to own a pair of Michael Kors pumps? If so, you can have mine. The sole is already worn out.