The History of Calvin Klein

calvin klein
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

As one of the global leaders of all things understated, chic and contemporary, Calvin Klein’s legacy in the fashion industry is already well and truly cemented. Read on for the complete history of the brand.

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From Wahlberg to Bieber, Calvin Klein is a brand that has easily navigated its way through the decades. With their contemporary, chic and timeless essentials, their ability to transcend the prevailing trends and hype beast brands is largely down to the understated aesthetic of their collections. But where did it all start?

Read on for the complete history of Calvin Klein.

The History of Calvin Klein

1968 – 1980

Looking to create a collection of “youthful, understated coats and dresses”, Calvin Klein first set up shop in the York Hotel in NYC back in 1968. With a meager $10,000 at hand, he quickly gained popularity among the fashion-forward New Yorkers and was featured on the cover of Vogue magazine in September 1969 – the most important issue for a fashion magazine.

With the success of the initial collection, Klein had expanded his line by 1971, adding sportswear, blazers, and lingerie to his women’s collections. In 1973 he won the Coty American Fashion Critics Award for his collection, and once again in 1974 and 1975. By 1977, revenues were reaching in excess of $30 million and had branched out into scarves, shoes, belts, furs, cosmetics, jeans, menswear sunglasses and sheets.

mark wahlberg calvin klein
Mark Wahlberg’s Shoot for Calvin Klein Underwear | PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

By the late seventies, Calvin Klein’s jeans were in hot demand with over 200,000 pairs being sold in the first week. At the same time, Klein’s fragrances and cosmetics began to take a dive which led to their withdrawal from the market. While this was a financial setback for the company, their underwear range was booming with the iconic Mark Wahlberg promo images becoming a global sensation.

calvin klein underwear
SHOP: Calvin Klein Underwear

1980 – 2000

It was the 1980s that the ‘Calvins’ underwear popularity really soared, with over $600million in sales in 1984. Alongside this, his clothes now available in 12,000 stores in the US alongside being largely available in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. By late 1987, financial problems, employee turnover, and licensing disputes led to the attempted sale of the company – which apparently fell through due to the crashing stock market, however, the business survived regardless.

Through the 1990s, the company experienced further growth mainly due to its increasingly popular underwear, sportswear and fragrance lines. Although the brand continued its rise with Calvin being named ‘America’s Best Designer’ in 1993, once again, the brand was listed for sale in 1999. Although they’d been approached by LMVH, Pinault Printemps Redoute, Tommy Hilfiger Corp. and Holding di Partecipazioni with offers, all we’re rejected due to the supposed high price of $1billlion.

calvin klein 80s
Calvin Klein in the 80s | PHOTO CREDIT: Calvin Klein

2000 – Present

In 2002, Calvin Klein was finally sold to Phillips Van Heusen Corp for $400million cash, $30million stock and licensing rights and royalties over the 15 years following the deal (estimated $300million). While Calvin himself remained as the creative lead for the collections, this soon changed to the role of creative advisor, before completely separating from the brand.

calvin klein
SHOP: Calvin Klein Jeans

As of 2010, PVH has estimated the ready-to-wear element of the brand to produce sales in excess in €4.6 billion. In 2013, the Warnaco Group, which owned several elements of the brand, was bought out by PVH which united formal, jeans, sportswear and underwear under one name.

Calvin Klein continues to dominate in the casual, contemporary fields of fashion remaining relevant from season to season. The recent use of Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner as the face of Calvin Klein underwear, although questioned by Calvin himself, has seen an unprecedented rise in sales of the brand’s underwear and catapulted to American powerhouse to one of the most popular brands of the modern day with a wide range now available from Calvin Klein jackets to scarves and fragrances.

justin bieber calvin klein
Justin Bieber & Lara Stone for Calvin Klein | PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

Your Quick Guide to The History of Calvin Klein

  • Looking to create a collection of “youthful, understated coats and dresses”, Calvin Klein first set up shop in the York Hotel in NYC back in 1968.
  • Calvin Klein was first featured on the cover of Vogue magazine in September 1969.
  • It was the 1980s that the ‘Calvins’ underwear popularity really soared, with over $600million in sales in 1984.
  • Calvin Klein was named ‘America’s Best Designer’ in 1993.
  • As of 2010, PVH has estimated the ready-to-wear element of the brand to produce sales in excess in €4.6 billion.

On That Note

That’s your lot! For a brand that’s just about to hit its 50th birthday mark, there’s no doubting that Calvin Klein’s global reach is anything less than downright impressive. Thier vast reach into licensing deals with fragrances and accessories among an abundance of other branded products has made them one of the most easily identifiable labels of the modern day – all while remaining understated and relatively minimalist. Follow the link below to shop the collection!

SHOP ALL CALVIN KLEIN

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