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Who is Lawrence Stroll?
He parlayed fashion labels into fortunes
SUE MONTGOMERY, The Gazette
Published: Saturday, August 23 2008
Montrealer Lawrence Stroll, 49, followed in his father's footsteps of making his fortune in the clothing industry. Leo Strulovitch, who also goes by the name Stroll, started with the Pierre Cardin line for women and children, then brought Ralph Lauren's women's and children's clothing to Canada.
"That's how Lawrence met Ralph Lauren and developed that line all across Europe," said Sean O'Donnell, one of Stroll's longtime friends.
"He's a self-made man and known to have a golden touch as a businessman." In the 1990s, Stroll and his Hong Kong business partner, Silas Chou, who together built Sportswear Holdings Ltd., put their money behind then little-known clothing designer Tommy Hilfiger and turned the brand into a $1.8-billion success. Chou's family owns one of the largest suppliers of textiles and yarns in Asia, Novel Denim.
One of Stroll and Chou's recent acquisitions is Asprey & Garrard - centuries-old British companies making luxury jewellery and leather. In 2002, Sportswear Holdings signed a lease with Donald J. Trump - one of the largest retail lease transactions in Fifth Ave. history - for the first three floors of the corner of Trump Tower to house Asprey & Garrard's New York store, which opened in 2003.
While Stroll likes to live large - he has appeared frequently in photos on the New York society pages - he shies away from speaking with reporters, even about his passion for motor racing.
He did concede, in an email interview, that he has been interested in race cars since he was a teenager - nothing more revealing than that.
Canadian Business magazine reported Stroll was worth $472 million in 2004, earning him a spot on the list of the top 100 richest Canadians. But he was dropped from the list last year because his net worth dipped below the minimum of $445 million to a reported $422 million.
He divides his time among homes in London, Mont Tremblant, the exclusive private island of Mustique in the Caribbean and Westmount, where he lives with his wife and two children.
Stroll declined to answer questions about his personal wealth or how it was made.
"I'm sure you can appreciate my family and I wish to have our privacy respected," he wrote.
Lawrence Stroll - Chairman of the Board - Global Brands Acquisition Corporation
48 Years Old
Lawrence Stroll has been our chairman of the board since our inception. Mr. Stroll has been the co-chairman of the board of Michael Kors Corporation, one of the preeminent designers for luxury sportswear, since January 2003. Mr. Stroll acquired a majority stake in Michael Kors Corporation in January 2003 through Sportswear Holdings Limited, a firm he co-founded in 1989. Sportswear Holdings Limited was formed to acquire the Tommy Hilfiger business with Mr. Hilfiger, Joel Horowitz and Silas Chou. Sportswear Holdings is beneficially owned 50% by Mr. Stroll and his affiliates and 50% by Mr. Chou and his affiliates. He served on the board of directors of Tommy Hilfiger Corporation from 1992 to July 2002, and was its co-chairman from 1998 to July 2002. In 2000, Sportswear Holdings acquired the London-based Asprey and Garrard luxury businesses. Mr. Stroll served as co-chairman of Asprey and Garrard until its subsequent sale in 2006. Sportswear Holdings also acquired Pepe Jeans London Corporation in 1991, of which Mr. Stroll was group chief executive officer from 1993 through 1998. Pepe Jeans, in addition to its own jeanswear businesses, held the license in Europe for Tommy Hilfiger jeans and women"s wear. Mr. Stroll also currently serves as co-chairman of Hackett Ltd., a classic British men"s clothing and accessories lifestyle brand based in London. Mr. Stroll began his career over 25 years ago when he acquired the Pierre Cardin children"s wear license for Canada. Shortly thereafter, he acquired the license for Polo Ralph Lauren children"s wear in Canada and launched Polo Ralph Lauren men"s, women"s and children"s apparel throughout Europe under the company Poloco S.A., of which Mr. Stroll was the founder, owner and operator.
Making Of An Icon - Lawrence Stroll
By Kate Betts - time.com
I've never dressed this group before," exclaims designer Michael Kors. He's talking about the millions of consumers out there who may covet designer fashion but are not prepared to shell out $850 for one of his 10-ply cashmere sweaters or $8,900 for hand-beaded pants. Or who may not even know his name. Kors built a fashion reputation dressing American jet-setters in cashmere and sequins, but now he covets single-name status like Ralph or Calvin. So he's launching MICHAEL Michael Kors (yes, the first name twice), intending to swathe Americans in what he calls "affordable luxury"--bright Argyle sweaters, paisley-print raincoats and stamped-leather handbags, most priced at less than $500. The new collection debuts this month in 350 department stores across the U.S. and next year in Europe and Asia.
The Michael-as-Ralph strategy is the brainchild of Kors' financial backers, Silas Chou and Lawrence Stroll, who bought a majority stake in Kors' company for a reported $100 million in January 2003 through their firm Sportswear Holdings Ltd. "It was time for him to become the next great American designer," says Stroll, who, along with Chou, conducted a "simple process of elimination" before they put their dollars behind Kors. "We wanted to invest in someone who is American, whose style is aspirational and who is seasoned but not too old. With these criteria, there were surprisingly few names to choose from."
Kors, 45, not only had the right experience; he was hungry. After 23 years in business, one trip to bankruptcy court and a seven-year relationship with LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, where he designed the Celine line, Kors was respected but not iconic.
Stroll and Chou intend to change that by turning Michael Kors into a $1 billion brand within a decade and taking the company public along the way. It's an ambitious plan to say the least, but they've done this kind of thing before. Canadian-born Stroll and Hong Kong--based Chou were the masterminds behind Ralph Lauren's international licensing deals throughout Europe in the 1980s. In the '90s, they put their money and Seventh Avenue experience behind a novice designer named Tommy Hilfiger. They took Hilfiger from a $25 million jeans business to a $1.8 billion global brand.
The secret of their success is the combination of Chou's manufacturing power--his family owns Novel Denim, one of the largest suppliers of textiles, sweaters and yarns in the Far East--and Stroll's keen knowledge of international distribution, product development and marketing. With Hilfiger, they were able to use manufacturing muscle to lower prices below those of competitors like Ralph Lauren. They also invested millions of dollars in advertising, flooding international markets with Hilfiger's name and attracting a trend-setting young urban crowd to the brand. In 1992 they took the company public with one of the industry's most successful IPOs. In 2001 Chou and Stroll cashed out their holdings in Hilfiger and a year later relinquished their co-chairman titles in order to branch out and invest in other brands. They had already bought the British luxury-goods firms Asprey and Garrard in 2000, and after unsuccessful runs at Valentino, Brooks Brothers and Calvin Klein, the partners went after Kors.
Auntie Fashion - Lawrence Stroll
Co-chairman of Sportswear Holdings Limited and major shareholder in Michael Kors Corporation. Stroll began his career in fashion by buying up children’s wear licenses for Pierre Cardin in Canada, moving onto Polo brands and eventually becoming one of the principle players in the development of the Tommy Hilfiger empire and the rebranding of Asprey.
|This site is for Mr Auntie Fashion
Asprey here to stay - Lawrence Stroll
vogue.co.uk - 25 April 2005, 07:41AM
LAWRENCE STROLL is unshaken by speculation that the Asprey empire is faltering. "This is an endurance race, not a sprint," he told WWD last week. "Will we win the endurance race? I don't know. But we certainly haven't entered the sprint race." Stroll, whose partners include Silas Chou, Edgar Bronfman Jr, Morgan Stanley Capital and the TAG Group, insists that both he and they are "absolutely committed" to the A&G business as well as being adamantly supportive of the Garrard designer Jade Jagger. He admits though, that while the impressive Asprey flagship on Bond Street is doing well, its New York counterpart was having a more difficult time of it. "New York was a marketing experience, and not necessarily a pleasant one," he went on. "We opened a store that was larger than the business required. In hindsight, would we do it again? I don't know. But we're now expanding all over the world, and sales at A&G are up 59 per cent." A&G Group, which owns both the Asprey and Garrard brands, announced that sales had risen 59 per cent to £26.7 million during the year to March 31. (April 25 2005, AM)
Patrick McMullan Company