The fashion world is swirling after Calvin Klein’s recent confirmation on the 2nd of August that Raf Simons is the new chief creative officer. The rumours are certainly true, and the point of discussion is aimed at what’s next for the brand. Jumping from the sophisticated Dior, Simon’s bold commitment to change and experimentation is sure to excite. So what should we expect from the new partnership between Raf Simons and Calvin Klein? Expect the unexpected.
Calvin Klein has a history of shocking and captivating the fashion crowd. Think back and you’ll remember a number of sexualised images for example, from Marky Mark rocking those CK underwear in the ‘90s, to their 2015 Fall Sexting campaign (“raw texts, real stories”). Soon after, by enlisting Kendall Jenner and Justin Bieber as their Spring 2016 models, the brand drew another flurry of attention. By dually appealing to the younger generation through featured celebrities of the moment, and by employing their trusted methods of provocation, Calvin Klein had people talking.
For a designer like Raf Simons, who told The Independent that he’s interested in using fashion as “something that will change something”, it’s easy to see the appeal of heading Calvin Klein’s creative department. Simons’ reign at Christian Dior had the brand skyrocketing in sales, with a 60% rise from 2011. His shocking departure in October 2015 was rumoured to be linked to the pace and workload at Dior, with a collection every two months and a rich history of tradition and haute couture.
As the new chief creative officer at Calvin Klein, Simons fits the grittier, younger aesthetic and offers an endless possibility of creativity. When the partnership was first announced, Calvin Klein’s CEO Steve Shiffman stated that Simons was the “creative visionary” necessary to “further solidify its position as a leading global lifestyle brand.” The somewhat rebellious Simons, who rose to prominence despite no formal fashion training, is Calvin Klein’s next phase in progression. No doubt his leadership will be used to modernise the brand in ways that may even depart from their roots in sexualisation and shock-value.
In return, Simons may gain the freedom and control he was missing at Dior, while entering the world of American fashion for the first time. Who knows what to expect? Perhaps Calvin Klein will completely evolve into a brand of luxe sophistication. Or maybe the envelope will be pushed further than ever before. The buzz continues…
To read more about the history of “The Sex Machine” that is Calvin Klein, read FIB’s Masters of Fashion, Volume 31 – Americans.
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