Calvin Klein: Why we like him?Aug 16th, 2011 | By Ladaneey Magazine | Category: Featured, Xaragada
He is a great designer, yes, we give him that. But what really impresses us is his skill as an astute businessman and his incredible marketing skills, in making underwear ads trendy, and growing a business that seems to have limited room for diversification into a global empire.
why is he famous?
Calvin Klein the man, is famous, but not nearly as famous as the brand name that bears his name, and has spawned a clothing giant, with a lucrative hold of the perfume market with scents like Obsession, One and Eternity. The brand name “Calvin Klein” is one of the world’s most valuable alongside Pepsi, Kodak, IBM, and Nike.
Calvin Klein. Forget the man, just think about the name. We’ll put a big wager on the fact that everyone reading this feature either possesses some item that says Calvin Klein, or knows someone who does (for our readers in Antartica). That, my friends, is what we call branding, and it is a testament to his work. Calvin Klein, the marketing genius, has achieved the kind of worldwide distribution of his products that only a handful of companies like Coke have been able to achieve.
The Bronx born and raised Klein started off in the fashion industry as a coat designer before becoming known as the United States’ premier jean designer. His rise to fame coincided with a personal tragedy when his daughter got kidnapped. When Calvin offered to be the one to exchange the ransom money for his daughter, he received international acclaim.
After a brilliant and provocative ad featuring Brooke Shields in the 1970s, his name became synonymous with designer jeans. Nowadays, he is famous for his underwear line, his extensive line of perfumes, the All-American look, and sticking to tradition, his provocative ads. After nearly 30 years in the fashion business, Calvin Klein has cemented his reputation as one of the most powerful and influential people (and brand names) in fashion.
personality & talent
His talent as a designer has never been put into question. With his minimalist sophisticated styles, Calvin Klein has been able to keep both men and women of all ages stylish with simple and elegant clothes.
On the business side, he is a tough boss that has left his share of subordinates in the wake of his roaring path to the pinnacle of his industry. Still, there is no arguing with the end results. Though he never studied marketing, his knowledge of trends, image and consumer psychology have made him an icon, and the subject of college case studies.
He recently divorced social-queen and photographer Kelly Klein (his second divorce) to become a bachelor again, though unlikely for long. Though not all women will be drawn to the introverted, hard-working Calvin, he has become Manhattan’s most eligible bachelor, and a catch to anyone in New York’s upper crust society.
The years have taken a toll on him, and the youthful goods he once had have been replaced by the look of a man who has worked very hard throughout his life.
accomplishments & fame
When he decided to strike out on his own, times were initially tough, and he was on the verge of bankruptcy, but a successful line of coats on sale at Bloomingdale’s kept the company alive and striving. And strive it did, Calvin Klein’s fashion empire now generates more than $5 billion in sales a year.
In 1993, he was chosen as America’s Best Designer, and has a roster of clients that include: Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, and Helen Hunt. He is one of a handful of designers to Hollywood’s major stars.
He can rest on his laurels and, in fact, he has tried. Quietly but unsuccessfully, he tried to sell his company, but there were no takers. We’d make an offer, but he would likely want millions of dollars or something. Maybe we can trade the company for our baseball card collection?
Follow him around New York for a day, see his life, see the people on his Rolodex, and then come tell us if you disagree with his coolness score.
This one’s a no-brainer. He looks like he just came back from a vacation in the Bahamas, and is one of the slickest guys in fashion. Lots of leather, lots of structured clothes. He always looks groomed like a king. Forget Slick Willie, Mr. Clinton, Calvin Klein is the real Mr. Slick.
“I’ve never been one to see women in ruffles and all kinds of fanciful apparel. To me it’s just silly.” -Calvin Klein
Calvin Richard Klein was born November 19, 1942, in the New York Bronx. Interested in fashion since childhood, a young Klein taught himself how to sketch and sew, and took his innate design skills with him to the classrooms of the New York High School of Art and Design.
Klein then went on the study at the Fashion Institute of Technology (he won places for both his high school and university studies), before heading to become a fashion entrepreneur. In 1968, Klein and childhood friend Barry Schwartz launched an apparel line of men and women’s coats. With Klein’s talent for design and Schwartz’s business savvy, Calvin Klein Limited was on its way to molding the fashion industry.
After Klein and Schwartz met with a buyer form Bonwit Teller, which led to a considerable order, the fashion world was beginning to recognize the talent behind the simple yet sophisticated coat line.
With a name that was making its way in fashion circles, Klein branched out and started his own women’s sportswear line, thanks to the encouragement and demand of fashion store executives. By the 1970s, Klein’s sportswear line had expanded to include women’s apparel, and a whole ready-to-wear line.
From classic, sharp designs available mostly in neutral tones, Klein revolutionized the fashion industry with a basic, minimalist style, much the same way that Ralph Lauren has become a staple in the fashion world. But it was in the late 1970s/1980s that Klein introduced a whole new concept: designer jeans at an affordable price. Teenage model Brooke Shields, clad in her tight Calvin Klein Jeans, made it known to the world that “nothing stood in the way of her and her Calvins.” And women worldwide proved that they agreed with young Brooke.
And Klein’s revolutionary skills didn’t stop there. In 1982, Klein introduced Calvin Klein Underwear, which turned the perception of men’s underwear to one of a fashionable item. Underwear was no longer just a practical product, rather one that suggested sex appeal, and one that told men that they too can look like male Calvin Klein Underwear models, Antonio Sabato Jr. and Mark Wahlberg.
Klein then moved to a fragrance line, with the introduction of popular fragrances such as Obsession, Eternity, Escape, Ck One, and Contradiction since the late 1970s. Klein was also the first to release a line of unisex fragrances, Ck One, only underscoring his role as a pioneer. With suggestive advertising that linked sex and sexuality to scents, Klein used the power of advertising to make his fragrance line (which includes 9 fragrances) a phenomenal success and an everlasting brand.
Not only a fashion visionary, Klein has also become known as a marketing genius who changed advertising by continuously pushing the envelope a little further. His controversial ad campaigns started in the late ’80s with the Brooke Shields ad, to the waify Kate Moss modeling Ck One and his lingerie/innerwear line in the ’90s. Klein has become notorious for the nudity, blatant sexuality, and use of underage, prepubescent models in his ads, which have not hurt his success in the least.
Thanks to the positioning of “modern, practical fashion, and minimalist-chic,” Calvin Klein’s empire has gone on to encompass lifestyle fashion, with the Calvin Klein Collection for women, men and the home, ck Calvin Klein for men and women, and ck Calvin Klein Jeans for men, women and kids, as well as a beauty and cosmetics line.
Klein has received many accolades for his work and contribution to fashion: he won the Coty Award in 1973, 1974 and 1975 (making him the youngest designer to win these awards), and was awarded the Council of Fashion Designers of America Award for design in women and menswear in 1982, 1983, and 1986 (making history as the first designer to receive both awards in the same year), as well as the CDFA in 1993 for both women and menswear, and the America’s Best Designer of 1993 Award.
A member of numerous committees, such as the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Klein is the designer of choice for celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Gwyneth Paltrow and Helen Hunt, and has influenced designers such as Miuccia Prada and Donna Karan.
Known as “Calvin the Conqueror” and as one of Time’s 25 Most Influential People in America, Klein has a daughter, Marci, with his now ex-wife, Kelly Klein. While he has been married, his days as a bachelor hanging out at the famed Studio 54 could be considered questionable, as can his sexuality.
Thanks to his minimalist designs for urban socialites, provocative advertising, and visionary ideas, Klein has become a 20th century icon.
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