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Kris Jenner Talks Kardashian Family’s Most Significant Business Deal at WWD Summit

WWD Apparel and Retail CEO Summit
Patrick MacLeod/WWD/REX/Shutterstock

Kardashian family matriarch and “momager” Kris Jenner is certainly doing something right.

Ten years after the debut of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” a newly inked deal ensures the hit reality show will remain on E! for another five seasons in a multimillion-dollar renewal contract. After 20-year-old Kylie Jenner launched her wildly popular signature Lip Kits, Jenner helped her daughter found Kylie Cosmetics — which made $420 million in retail sales over the first 18 months.

A lot can be credited to social media, which Jenner discussed during a conversation with Tommy Hilfiger on Tuesday at WWD’s Apparel & Retail CEO Summit at the Pierre in New York. “The whole marketing budget [my children] need is the price of a smartphone,” said Jenner, whose family has over 750 million collective followers across social media platforms. “Social media became the single most important thing that we had as a tool to be able to build and grow a business.”

Still, when WWD’s Bridget Foley sat down with honoree Karl Lagerfeld later in the evening at the second WWD Honors, Foley revealed what Jenner considered to be her most significant business deal.

“Your old friend Tommy Hilfiger had a conversation with Kris Jenner this morning,” Foley recapped to Lagerfeld from the stage before an elegant dinner. “And my colleagues asked Kris, if there was one deal that crystallized for her the success of the Kardashian-Jenner family in business, [what would it be]? And Kris said, ‘When Kendall walked the Chanel show.'”

Foley went on to ask a typically awards-averse Lagerfeld — who received the night’s prestigious John B. Fairchild honor, alongside fellow honorees Moncler, the RealReal, Patagonia, and Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri — his opinion on what’s made Chanel the consumer gold standard it is today.

“When I took over Chanel, everybody said to me, ‘Don’t touch it, it’s dead. There’s nothing you can do,'” said Lagerfeld, who’s currently the creative director of Chanel, Fendi, and his own eponymous label. “And I said to myself, ‘I love that people think that.'”

The German fashion designer, photographer, cartoon artist, interior designer, and director of short films (starring Kristen Stewart and Keira Knightley) met the late Fairchild — publisher and editor-in-chief of WWD for nearly 40 years — in Paris in the late ’50s. Lagerfeld, who loved clothes so much he changed outfits twice a day as a schoolboy but never went to fashion school, attributes his success to hard work and good instincts.

“When I was young I got no advice, and the advice I got wasn’t good,” he said. “It’s so simple: you have to know what you want, you have to ask yourself questions, and if you are honest, you know the answers.”

The legendary designer, who can’t even walk down the street these days without being recognized, proved as humble and gracious as he is humorous and pithy. “I don’t need my name on everything,” said Lagerfeld, who equates working on different labels to a musician who plays different instruments. “Fendi is Fendi, Chanel is Chanel. I don’t have to have ‘Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld,’ ‘Fendi by Karl Lagerfeld,’ no. If it’s good, people know. If it’s not good, it’s better they don’t know!”

Fortunately, it’s been plenty good, but Lagerfeld never looks back and believes his best work is still ahead of him. “Fashion is like show business today,” he explained. “[They say] you’re as good as your last show. But no, it’s your next show.”

(Pictured: Tommy Hilfiger and Kris Jenner)