Calvin Richard Klein - biography
Calvin Klein Inc. is a fashion brand founded in 1968 by Calvin Klein. The company is headquartered in Midtown Manhattan, New York City and currently owned by Phillips-Van Heusen. Like other fashion brands, Calvin Klein established a world famous monogram: the "cK" emblem.
In 1968, Klein founded Calvin Klein Limited, a coat shop in the York Hotel in New York City, with $10,000. Legend has it that a year later a buyer from Bonwit Teller got off the elevator on the wrong floor, and ended up placing a $50,000 order. It is more likely though, that Klein showed his work to Bonwit Teller staff, which led to the first Calvin Klein collection: a line of men's and women's coats featured at the New York City store.
In 1969, Mr. Klein, who was later described as "the supreme master of minimalism," appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine. By 1971, sportswear, classic blazers as well as lingerie were added to his women's collection. In 1973, he was awarded the Coty Award for the first time, which he received for three consecutive years, for his 74-piece womenswear collection. By 1977, annual revenues had jumped up to $30 million, and he had licenses for scarves, shoes, belts, furs, sunglasses, and sheets. Klein and Schwartz were making $4 million each. After the company signed licenses for cosmetics, jeans, and menswear, Klein's annual retail volume was estimated at $100 million. In 1978, Klein claimed sales of 200,000 pairs of his famous jeans the first week they were on the market. By 1981, Fortune magazine figured Klein's annual income at $8.5 million a year. In the mid-1970s, he had created a designer-jeans craze by putting his name on the back pocket. The jeans were famously advertised with a commercial featuring a 15-year-old Brooke Shields cooing in 1979/80 that "nothing comes between me and my Calvins" and "I've got seven Calvins in my closet, and if they could talk, I'd be ruined." Controversial advertising, including a series of ads featuring adolescents in sexually evocative poses, has been a recurring theme for the company. Shields advertised for Klein underwear in 1984 as well.
In the late 1970s, the company also made attempts to set up its own fragrance and cosmetics business, but soon withdrew from the market with big financial losses. In the 1980s, as the designer-jeans frenzy reached its all-time high, Calvin Klein introduced a highly successful line of boxer shorts for women and a men’s underwear collection which would later gross $70 million in a single year. Calvin Klein’s underwear business, promoted later in the 1990s with giant billboards showing images of pop singer "Marky Mark" Mark Wahlberg, was so successful that his underpants became generally known as "Calvins".
The stunning growth continued through the early eighties. The licensing program, which brought in $24,000 when it was initiated in 1974, had royalty income of $7.3 million ten years later. That year, worldwide retail sales were estimated at more than $600 million. Klein's clothes were sold through 12,000 stores in the United States and were available in six other countries. His annual income passed $12 million.
Financial problems, increased pressure from all sides, disagreements with the licensee of the menswear line and its disappointing sales as well as an enormous employee turnover both within Calvin Klein and its licensing partners led to the first rumors that Calvin Klein Industries, as the company had been known by then, was up for sale. And indeed, in late 1987, it was said that the sale of the company to Triangle Industries, a container manufacturer, had only failed because of the crashing stock market.
Although the company almost faced bankruptcy in 1992, Calvin Klein managed to regain and increase the profitability of his empire throughout the later 90s, mainly through the success of its highly popular underwear and fragrance lines, as well as the ck sportswear line. Mr. Klein was named "America's Best Designer" for his minimalist all-American designs in 1993, and it came as a surprise in 1999 when it was announced that CKI was again up for sale. Planning to expand its business, the company had been approached by two luxury goods companies, LVMH and Pinault Printemps Redoute, to join Calvin Klein, but nothing resulted. Other potentials like Tommy Hilfiger Corp. and Italy's Holding di Partecipazioni proved to be similar disappointments because of CKI's steep price tag of supposedly $1 billion. After seven months and no potential buyer, Mr. Klein announced that his empire was not on the market any more. The company would never manage to go public, which had supposedly been Mr. Klein's plan once. In June 2008, Calvin Klein started to sponsor America's Next Top Male Model, allowing the winner to embark on a 100,000 dollar contract as well as a runway show, as a bonus, to launch their career.
Acquisition by Phillips van Heusen
In mid-December 2002, Calvin Klein Inc. (CKI) was finally sold to shirt maker Phillips Van Heusen Corp, whose then CEO Bruce Klatsky was the driving force behind the deal, for about $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. The sale also included an ongoing personal financial incentive for Mr. Klein based on future sales of the Calvin Klein brand. PVH outcompeted VF Corp., the maker of Lee and Wrangler jeans, which had also been interested in the jeans, underwear and swimwear business of CK that had been controlled by Warnaco Group, maker of Speedo swimwear, since 1997. The deal with PVH did not include these businesses, and they remained with Warnaco. Unable to pay debts from acquisitions and licensing agreements and due to bad publicity by a later dismissed lawsuit with Calvin Klein over selling license products to retailers other than agreed upon with Calvin Klein, Warnaco had filed for chapter 11 protection in mid-2001 but eventually emerged from bankruptcy in February 2003.
In reaction to the announcement of the deal, Phillips-Van Heusen shares closed down 14 cents at $12.54 on the New York Stock Exchange on December 17, 2002. The transaction between Calvin Klein and PVH was financially supported by Apax Partners Inc., a New York private equity firm, which is said to have made a $250 million equity investment in PVH convertible preferred stock, as well as a $125 million, two-year secured note, all in exchange for seats on the board of PVH.
CKI thus became a wholly owned subsidiary of PVH. In the beginning, Mr. Klein himself, who was included as a person in the 15-year contract he had signed with PVH, remained creative head of the collections but then continued as an advisor (consulting creative director) to the new company from 2003 on and has since been more withdrawn from the business. Barry K. Schwartz was said to concentrate on his role as chairman of the New York Racing Association, a horse-racing club. The current President and COO of the CKI division within PVH is Tom Murry, who had filled this position already before the acquisition.
With the fall 2006 Collection runway presentations in New York City, CKI inaugurated an 8,600 sq ft (800 m2) show room space that can seat up to 600 people on the ground floor of 205 West 39th Street, in Times Square South where Calvin Klein has been headquartered since 1978.
The current creative director for Calvin Klein Collection for women is Brazilian-born Francisco Costa who had already worked with Mr. Klein directly before the founder's departure from the company.
Italo Zucchelli, a former Jil Sander and Romeo Gigli designer, had collaborated with Calvin Klein for six seasons before he became head designer of the Calvin Klein Collection menswear line in spring 2004.
Kevin Carrigan, an Englishman, is the creative director of the ck Calvin Klein and Calvin Klein (white label) brands and their related licensed products. Carrigan has been with Calvin Klein since 1998.
- The most visible brand names in the Calvin Klein portfolio include:
- Calvin Klein Collection (black label, top-end designer line)
- ck Calvin Klein (grey label, recently repositioned as bridge collection line; licensed to Warnaco Group, Inc. through at least 2044])
- Calvin Klein (white label, better sportswear line)
- Calvin Klein Sport (sports version of the white label line for Macy's)
- Calvin Klein Jeans (denimwear line; licensed to Warnaco Group through at least 2044)
- Calvin Klein Home (high end bedding, towel, bath rug and accessory collections)
- The Khaki Collection (youthful medium to high end bedding, towel, bath rug and accessories) discontinued in 2008
- Calvin Klein Golf (launched in late 2007)
- Calvin Klein Underwear (underwear collections; licensed to Warnaco Group through at least 2044)
In the late 1990s the company opened elegant Calvin Klein Collection stores in Paris, Seoul, and Taipei and ultra high-end cK Calvin Klein stores in Hong Kong, Milan and Kuwait City. As of today, there is only one Calvin Klein Collection store operated by CKI. It is located in New York City. Out of the two Calvin Klein Collection stores that existed in the US, the Dallas location in Highland Park Village which had been open for 20 years was closed in mid-2005. The only international location, in Paris, was closed by PVH in March 2006. The New York store, which serves as the company's flagship store at 654 Madison Ave., remains open still today. Partners maintain Calvin Klein Collection stores in Milan, Beijing and Dubai.
Specialty retail Calvin Klein stores, designed by New York architecture firm Lynch/Eisinger/Design have been opened at Lenox Square in Atlanta, Beverly Center in Los Angeles; now closed down, Cherry Creek Mall in Denver; now closed down, Natick Collection in Natick, MA; closing down on July 25, 2010, The Mall at Partridge Creek in Michigan; now closed down, Aventura Mall in Aventura, Florida, South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa California. An additional eight stores also designed by Lynch/Eisinger/Design are set to open in 2008. There are also several Calvin Klein Outlet stores, mostly located within factory outlet malls in the US, that sell the white label sportswear and sometimes the ck lines at reduced prices but do not carry the Collection lines. It has been reported that Calvin Klein will close all White Label locations within the next year.
The Warnaco Group maintains Calvin Klein Jeans and corresponding outlet stores in the US and elsewhere, carrying the denim and casual collections. International Calvin Klein Jeans stores exist around the globe. Among many other countries in the UK, Germany, Greece, Brazil, México, Croatia, Egypt, Chile, Argentina, India, Australia and New Zealand.
Signature Calvin Klein Underwear boutiques can be found in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Melbourne, Hong Kong, London, Manchester, New York City, Shanghai, Singapore, Frankfurt am Main and Toronto. Calvin Klein Underwear is also opening a store in the St Davids Shopping Centre in Cardiff before Christmas 2010
The major department stores in the US, including Macy's, Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom, as well as many small independent stores carry the ck, white label and/or Jeans collections. Some high-end department stores, such as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus also carry Calvin Klein Collection. Notable retailers in the UK offering Calvin Klein include stores such as John Lewis, Debenhams and KJ Beckett. In Australia the dominant retailer is Myer. Calvin Klein collections are also found online with particular internet focus on selling Calvin Klein underwear and fragrance.
In Europe, Calvin Klein is predominantly known for its underwear, accessories and perhaps the Collection business, rather than for the medium-priced sportswear lines which are available at select high-end retail stores. In Asia, there are also signature ck stores that only carry the ck sportswear line.
Calvin Klein is famous for the label's various lines of perfumes and colognes. Their perfumes and the corresponding fragrance lines used to be maintained by Calvin Klein Cosmetics Company (CKCC), a Unilever company, until recently when in May 2005 cosmetics giant Coty, Inc. of New York bought up the fragrance licensing agreements from Unilever. [year of launch]
The early ads were shot by Bruce Weber and Richard Avedon. Avedon, photographed and directed the Calvin Klein Jeans campaign that featured a fifteen year old Brooke Shields. Some of those television commercials were banned, including the infamous ad where Brooke asks "Do you want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing!" Calvin Klein's advertising campaigns are frequently controversial, but prove this can be very successful, to the point of making a blitz career. One of his male underwear models, Mark Wahlberg, went on to fame as hip hop star 'Marky Mark', launching himself into the Hollywood scene to become a current "A-list" actor. Another Hollywood star owing his respectable career to the Calvin Klein advertisements is Antonio Sabato Jr.. In the early '90s, Calvin Klein was also responsible for launching the international career of supermodel Kate Moss and offering her another opportunity to revive her career in 2002 after cocaine allegations. Other spokesmodels were Natalia Vodianova, Scott King and Toni Garrn, whose career were launched by Calvin Klein, too. Current Spokesmodels of the brand are David Agbodji and Monika Jagaciak, and actress Eva Mendes is the spokesmodel for the denim line. Other models who have modeled for Calvin Klein include Jerry Hall, Patti Hansen, Andie McDowell, Tom Hintnaus, Lisa Taylor, Doutzen Kroes, Coco Rocha, Mini Anden, Alessandra Ambrosio, Garrett Neff, Andrew Stetson and Lara Stone.They also have many teenagers representing them, like Jayli Alejandra Rodriguez, Kenia Ferro, Penelope Layevska, Laura Cristina Calderon and Isabela Parini. They also play with emerging technologies. When advertising cKone perfume in 1999, they employed a very unusual and groundbreaking campaign that displayed e-mail addresses in print advertisements, targeted at teenagers. When these teens mailed these addresses, they would be placed on a mailing list that sent them mails with vague details about the models' lives, with fake details meant to make them more relatable. These mails came at unpredictable intervals, and were supposed to give readers the feeling that they had some connection with these characters. Though the mailing lists were discontinued in 2002, the campaign has inspired similar marketing tactics for movies and other retail products.
In 2004 the company bought the premium domain name CK.com. Calvin Klein is one of the few corporations worldwide to own a two letter domain name. Many fashion houses use their Acronym as a Logo, but only two of them (CK.com / Calvin Klein and HM.com / H&M) succeeded to be in the VB.com Internet Hall of Fame.
Calvin Klein Underwear also owns Bras.com and Underwear.com. Both of the domain names are used to re-direct hits to CKU.com
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