Glenn Gissler - Blog - 2015 - kors5-copy


“I want to have my own business within five years”.


That was my mantra when I moved to New York City in 1984.

I had completed my studies in Art & Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design in the Spring of that year, and with the enthusiasm and naivete of youth I moved to the big city with big ambitions!

Boldly going forth without giving this saying a passing thought;


“Be careful what you wish for!”


In late Summer of 1987 a young fashion designer asked me to design the new offices and showroom for his growing company: His name was Michael Kors, and he was my first client…

Michael had had an auspicious beginning in 1978 with his very first account Bergdorf-Goodman.

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While the garment business is not easy (or as glamorous as it looks from the outside) Michael was talented, tenacious and had a dream!  He was immediately recognized as a talent to watch by fashion insiders.

It was a very big deal for this new hot young fashion designer to be moving to a large new base of operations, and it was Michael’s first opportunity to create a public expression of his design aesthetic in built form.

The space was off the beaten track of the Garment District, but it was a full floor and 10,000 square feet; the vision was ambitious, the budget modest.

The 1980’s were an optimistic period as evidenced by the lavish spending we witnessed in New York City; the business world was humming along at a very strong pace.  It was the spirit of this optimism combined with the naivete of  youth that I quit my job at Rafael Vinoly Architects, and with a $ 5,000 deposit from Michael Kors (and no savings) I jumped into starting a design business.

I was fortunate to find a design assistant fresh out of Parson’s named Cary Brown, signed a lease on a very small space in a run down building on lower Broadway – South of Canal, West of Chinatown, East of Tribeca and not close to much of anything.

I recently ran across some personal ‘historical documents’ from the days before starting my business – prepared on an old portable typewriter outlining my ‘start-up’ costs, as well as a document that outlined estimated project budgets (with no estimate about projected revenue).  In hindsight, I had a lot to learn, and there were many harsh lessons ahead…


Start music from JAWS….


In late October, approximately three weeks after I ‘hung out my shingle’ there was a  major event in the global financial markets know as Black Monday.

Stock markets around the world crashed – with many an eminent economists predicting that the next few years would be the most troubled since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

I moved forward.

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Glenn Gissler - Blog - 2015 - Michael-Kors-logo

We have worked on many projects since the early days of the 80’s – including my recent design of his New York City home – and today Michael Kors is a global brand that is taking the world by storm with no end in sight.  I am grateful to say I have been a witness to his success, and wish him all the best in the future!