Michael Kors didn't become a successful businessman and fashion designer by ignoring women who buy his clothes.
If anything, he said, that's the biggest lesson he's learned in nearly 30 years in the industry.
"Don't underestimate the customer," Kors, 53, said in Naples on Thursday. "A lot of designers and a lot of people in the fashion business underestimate how sophisticated people are. Partially because of the Internet now, everyone has this information at their fingertips."
Kors visited Naples for the Hats in the Garden fundraiser Thursday at Naples Botanical Garden for a runway show of his spring 2013 ready-to-wear collection.
Before that event, Kors stopped by Marissa Collections along Third Street South in Old Naples. Marissa and Burt Hartington opened the women's clothing business in 1975.
"I've been coming to Naples to see Marissa now for almost 30 years doing personal appearances," Kors said.
Kors said social media has "changed everything" in the fashion business, and he's riding the cyberspace wave. More than 2.6 million people "like" his Facebook page and he has nearly 960,000 followers on Twitter.
"It used to be that we had to spread the word in a much more elementary way," Kors said.
"In fact, I had to go to all of these stores in all of these cities to hear what women had to say but also for them to hear what I have to say. A woman can read about my resort collection the same day as I show it. She might live in Kuala Lumpur and she might live in Naples, Florida, and she might live in Toronto, Canada. But that kind of feedback, whether it's in person or socially, has been for us, a huge part of how I market things."
Kors said the most important thing for him is to "hear what women have to say, see how they live their lives."
"And now, over 30 years later, with social media, I can have a global conversation," he said.
Kors acknowledged he doesn't tweet everything on his Twitter account but answers the "major questions" from followers.
Florida is incorporated into his clothing designs because his Sunshine State customers travel often, Kors said.
"What's interesting is my ethos since the beginning has been I live to travel both for work and pleasure," he said.
"A jet-set life of someone who travels, to me, is a modern life. So my clothes are the kinds of clothes that have to span seasons. Things have certainly gotten more seasonless, with people traveling the way they do."
Kors concluded that he will always look to up his fashion game.
"You have to raise the bar," he said. "People want what's new, they want what's next. And they understand and appreciate quality."
Connect with Dave Osborn on Facebook and Pinterest at Ndn-Dave Osborn and on Twitter at NDN_dosborn.