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Everything You Need to Know About the History of Calvin Klein Brand
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 10:33:01 Europe/London
You will rarely find someone who hasn’t heard of Calvin Klein. Even if you have never tried any product from the brand, you must have crossed the path with someone who is using the clothes or perfumes made by Calvin Klein. Calvin Klein is an enigma. Yes, almost everybody aware of his underwear and his fragrance, but how he got to that point is still something of a mystery.
Calvin Richard Klein was born in the Bronx, New York as the middle child of two siblings on November 19, 1942. His mother was a homemaker, and Calvin took great joy in visiting her divorced mother’s tailoring shop in the Bronx, helping to give shape to Klein’s love of clothes and design. A passion-driven youth, he began working on fashion sketches before his teens and attended the High School of Industrial Arts and the Art Students League. He graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1963.
1968 – 1980
Calvin Klein set up shop in the York Hotel in NY back in 1968 with a goal to form a collection of 'youthful, fresh and understated coats & dresses'. With a $10,000 offered by his friend, he promptly became famous among the fashion-driven New Yorkers. He rented a little showroom to present his work. After a mere chance encounter with one of department shop Bonwit Teller's patrons, Klein was eventually able to acquire a deal. With the good exposure given by Teller and consumer demand, Klein was able to secure a huge sum of money in sales by the early ‘70s.
Klein was initially centred on women’s coats and coordinates. He eventually branched out into new lady’s apparel that could be comfortably mixed and matched, fostering a minimalist and streamlined look that relied on sublime tailoring and premium fabric choices. Later in the decade, he branched into jeans and menswear, eventually becoming a major player in a denim market. In September 1969, he was featured on the cover of Vogue magazine. With the tremendous success of the initial collection, Klein had expanded his clothing line by 1971, adding blazers, sportswear, and lingerie to his women’s collections. In 1973 he got the Coty American Fashion Critics Award for his classic collection, and once again in 1974 and 1975. By 1977, revenues were reaching more than $30 million and had branched out into scarves, belts, shoes, furs, cosmetics, jeans, menswear sunglasses and sheets.
By the late seventies, Calvin Klein jeans were in hot demand with over a huge number of pairs being sold immediately after their launch. Their underwear range was growing with the iconic Mark Wahlberg promo images becoming a global sensation.
1980 – 2000
It was the 80s that the ‘Calvin’s’ underwear demand soared, with over $600million in sales in 1984. Alongside this, his clothes became available in 12,000 stores in the US alongside being mostly available in the UK, Australia, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand. Through the 1990s, the company experienced further growth mainly due to its increasingly popular underwear, sportswear as well as fragrance lines. The brand maintained its growth with Calvin Klein being named ‘America’s Best Designer’ in 1993.
2000 – Present
In 2002, Calvin Klein was finally purchased by Phillips Van Heusen Corp. While Calvin remained as the creative lead for the brand's collections, this shortly changed to the role of creative advisor, before finally separating from the brand. By 2010, PVH has estimated the ready-to-wear element of the Calvin Klein brand to generate sales in excess in €4.6 billion. In 2013, the Warnaco Group, which owned multiple items of the brand, was bought out by PVH which united formal, sportswear, jeans, and underwear under a single name.
Calvin Klein brand continues to dominate in the casual, contemporary fields of fashion remaining relevant from season to season. The current use of Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner as the face of Calvin Klein underwear, although has seen an unparalleled rise in sales of the brand’s underwear. Today, it is one of the most popular brands of the modern day with a wide range now available from Calvin Klein scarves to jackets and fragrances.