Calvin Richard Klein is an American fashion designer who launched the company that would later become Calvin Klein Inc., in 1968. In addition to clothing, he also has given his name to a range of perfumes, watches, and jewellery.
Calvin Klein has dominated the fashion world as a top house for over 75 years. Born in 1942, the Bronx native studied fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, before apprenticing for a designer for a coat and suit manufacturer in the New York garment district. When he established his company in 1968, he transformed style in an age where hippie-style clothing was all the rage. His timeless aesthetic is portrayed in his collections, emphasizing classic modernity with simple yet trendy and fashionable pieces
Calvin Klein studied fashion in New York City and apprenticed for a suit manufacturer. In 1968, he and Barry Schwartz opened their own company, with Schwartz running the business side of things and Klein responsible for design and artistic vision. The label was initially recognized for suits and coats, but Klein’s sportswear line became popular as well. He received three Coty Awards for womenswear and the business eventually expanded to include menswear, jeans, cosmetics, fragrances and home collections. Having sold the company in 2003, Klein has also been the force behind model/celebrity-oriented ads that have become iconic parts of pop culture while simultaneously provoking much controversy and debate due to their provocative nature
Klein worked in various industry jobs before starting his own label. In 1968, he and his childhood friend Barry Schwartz became business partners when Schwartz took over his own family grocery business and gave Klein $10,000 to start the label. Renting a small showroom, Klein was eventually able to secure a deal with the department store Bonwit Teller after a chance encounter with one of its buyers. With the exposure provided by Teller and consumer demand, Klein was able to secure millions in sales by the early ‘70s.
Having initially focused on women’s coats and coordinates, Klein eventually branched out into additional lady’s apparel that could be mixed and matched, cultivating a minimalist, streamlined look that relied on sublime tailoring and fabric choices. Later in the decade he branched into menswear and jeans, eventually becoming a major player in a denim market dominated then by the likes of Gloria Vanderbilt, Jordache and Sasson. He hired fashion luminaries to help shape his vision, with some crediting former Vogue editor Francis Stein as being the force behind articulating the sensuality that Klein would become known for. By the 1980s, Klein’s brand was also known for underwear and luxurious perfumes and colognes with corresponding ad campaigns. In the following decade, the label branched out further into home apparel.
The company faced major financial difficulty in the ‘90s and was saved by a financial bailout from friend David Geffen. Calvin Klein Inc. later filed a suit in 2000 against its licensee Warnaco Group for breaching contractual agreements and trademark law. (The case was settled out of court.) Having established an array of licensing agreements over the course of their career, Klein and Schwartz sold their company in 2003 to Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation for $430 million in cash and stock along with a limited royalty deal. As of 2016, Raf Simons has been appointed chief creative officer for Calvin Klein the brand, serving as the unified head of its divisions.
Calvin Klein Inc. is a fashion house based in Manhattan, New York. Founded by fashion designer Calvin Klein in the year 1968, the brand has become synonymous with luxury fragrances, watches, denims, clothing, accessories and underwear for both men and women.
The brand Calvin Klein Limited had humble origins. It was created on a budget of $10,000 and sold in the York Hotel in New York City. Calvin Klein’s first collection was a line of understated coats and dresses that was featured in the New York store Bonwit Teller. In 1969, Calvin Klein appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine. Soon after, he added sportswear, blazers and lingerie to the collection. By 1973, Calvin Klein’s artistry was honoured with a Coty American Critics’ Awards in 1973, 1974 and 1975.
Calvin Klein was responsible for starting the trend of putting the brand name on the back pocket of denims. The brand launched a line of boxer briefs in 1992 that went on to earn a staggering $70 million that year. Part of the success was thanks to the advertising campaign that showcased Mark Marky or Mark Wahlberg, as he is now known, in his underpants that came to be simply known as ‘Calvins.’ This has been dubbed as ‘one of the greatest apparel revolutions of the century.’
In 2002, Calvin Klein Inc. was sold to Phillips Van Heusen Corp for $400 million in cash, $30 million in stock as well as licensing rights and royalties linked to revenues over the following 15 years that were estimated at $200 to $300 million.
Calvin Klein has employed several top models to promote their brand such as Kate Moss, Kendall Jenner, Natalia Vodianova, DoutzenKroes, Jamie Dornan, Scarlett Johansson, Diane Kruger and Eva Mendes. In recent years, the brand Calvin Klein has created quite a stir with their social media campaign titled as #MyCalvins, which once again sees the brand recreating the success of its Mark Wahlberg ‘Calvins’ campaign. With a plethora of stars casually posing for intimate selfies in their homes modeling their Calvin Klein underwear in innovative ways, the brand managed to capture the hearts of millennials everywhere who sought to recreate their own #MyCalvins moment. There are almost 5,00,000 posts bearing that hashtag on Instagram alone. Superstar Justin Bieber is notorious for wearing low-waisted trousers, often letting his Calvin Klein underwear peek through.
By Pallab BOSE & Sadaf SHARMA
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