Meet the team responsible for Michael Kors’ recent expansion. Silas Chou and Lawrence Stroll, primary investors via their Sportswear Holdings, made a fortune as early backers of Tommy Hilfiger. Both have retail bona fides: Montreal native Stroll, whose father was a Pierre Cardin licensee in Canada, launched Polo Ralph Lauren in Europe in the ’80s.
Chou’s father started one of the largest textile suppliers in Asia; Chou heads the corporate parent, Novel Group, which has also invested in airlines and real estate. In 2005 he partnered with investor Wilbur Ross to launch Cone Denim China, a joint venture between the Novel Group and ITG, Ross’s textiles arm. (“[Chou] seems to know everybody,” says Ross.)
Completing the trio is investor and CEO John Idol, a veteran of Polo Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan; before joining Kors, he was CEO of the parent company for Anne Klein. “Michael Kors is an extremely talented person, “ says Gilbert Harrison, chairman and CEO of Financo, a retail-focused investment bank. “He just had partners early on who didn’t help him grow like they should have.”