If nothing else, last week’s announcement that Tapestry (the owner of Coach, Stuart Weitzman, and Kate Spade) had spent $8.5 billion to acquire Capri (the parent company of Versace, Jimmy Choo and Michael Kors) brought some drama to an otherwise lackluster American fashion market—one where middling brands often struggle for attention against their more revered and exciting European counterparts. On the face of it, this looks like a pretty logical deal—and perhaps inevitable, given the rapid consolidation of the industry. These are the two companies keeping the middle of the market warm, so why shouldn’t they band together against Big Luxury and Fast Fashion alike, all while lowering operating expenses and increasing their margins? Tapestry will undoubtedly save the $200 million in efficiencies that the company predicts—human resources, real estate, technology, back office finance people, accounting fees, etcetera—resulting in “enhanced TSR,” or total shareholder return, for those of us allergic to acronyms.
More than anything, though, this is an amazing outcome for Capri C.E.O. John Idol, who has achieved some of the most impressive financial exits in fashion history. After a few formative years as group president of Ralph Lauren, Idol took over as C.E.O. of Donna Karan, which he helped sell to LVMH for $243 million in 2001. A year later, along with investors Lawrence Stroll and Silas Chou, who already owned Tommy Hilfiger, Idol bought Michael Kors from LVMH and the brand’s other owners for $100 million. At the time, it was posting about $20 million a year in sales. In 2011, Michael Kors went public on the New York Stock Exchange at $3.8 billion. Everyone involved got very rich.
Idol wasn’t supposed to be a part of this latest combination. In 2021, a younger and well-respected executive, Joshua Schulman, was named C.E.O. of Michael Kors under the auspices that he would succeed Idol as the C.E.O. of the entire Capri group a year later. Schulman was a retail savant who had worked at Gucci and ran Jimmy Choo, and was president of Bergdorf Goodman for a stint. He was viewed by many as the ideal leader for the group, which was formed quickly after Kors acquired Choo, in 2017, for $1.2 billion and Versace in 2018 for $2.1 billion. Ironically, Schulman had grown his own stature during his three years at Tapestry, where he had led Coach, before he left in 2020 for the Capri job.