Calvin Klein is one of the few avant-garde fashion designers who offers an entirely current and refined style. Calvin Klein is one of America’s top fashion designers, with a refined sense of style that has made waves with his basic yet timeless designs. In his clothing, he never used too many colors. In fact, Klein’s ensembles were greatest when he used neutral tones to add richness and grandeur. His Calvin Klein empire, which began as a tiny coat firm, now boasts a diverse product line ranging from garments to fragrance, underwear to footwear, and much more. While Klein’s stylish designs were popular, it was his introduction of form-fitting jeans that propelled the company and his personal brand to new heights. The denim wear line had snagged the spotlight and was the buzz of the town. As if that wasn’t enough, the 1980s saw an even bigger rise with the introduction of men’s innerwear. While Klein’s products were well-received, his advertising were widely panned and sparked debate for being excessively provocative and socially irresponsible. Despite the fact that the commercials were subsequently taken down, they provided much-needed awareness for the brand.
Childhood and Adolescence
Calvin Richard Klein was born on November 19, 1942, in the Bronx, New York, to Flo and Leo Stern. He was the couple’s second kid out of three children.
He had been watching his grandma, a seamstress, since he was a toddler. As a result, he developed an early interest in sewing, which grew into a passion and subsequently a job.
When his peers were doing sports, he spent his time sketching designs and creating beautiful clothing. His mother encouraged him to pursue his interests in fashion and art.
He was accepted to the High School of Art and Design after completing his elementary studies. He graduated from the same high school and went on to the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1962.
Career of Calvin Klein
Klein’s first job in the glamorous and professional world of fashion was as an apprentice worker for Dan Millestein, the owner of a cloak and suit house, in 1962. He worked tirelessly day and night to improve his own creations, and he was enthusiastic about it. Meanwhile, he was also designing for other New York stores.
Calvin Klein was founded in 1968 by him and his childhood friend Barry Schwartz. At the time of its founding, the company was only a coat shop.
Klein received his first order from Bonwit Teller, a large clothing store in New York City. Surprisingly, the order was the result of pure luck. A coat buyer from Bonwit Teller got off on the wrong floor of a hotel where Klein’ workroom was located by accident and strolled inside it. She placed a large order worth $50,000 after watching him work.
His first order was a big success, garnering him praise from the general people as well as the fashion press. His work thrilled the store executives, who pushed him to expand his collection to include sportswear as well.
Calvin Klein Company had risen considerably by 1971. In its women’s line, the store offered not only coats, but also sportswear, classic blazers, and lingerie. The Klein Empire grew quickly and became extremely profitable, with a couture line that offered its female customers exceptionally attractive custom-made garments.
Klein’s dedication, hard work, and commitment to the fashion industry paid off handsomely. By 1977, the company had grown from a $10,000 start-up to a $30 million revenue stream. Aside from women’s clothing, the company possessed licenses for scarves, shoes, belts, furs, sunglasses, and sheets at the time.
Klein, never one to rest on his laurels, set out to grow his firm even further, obtaining licenses for cosmetics, denim, and menswear. The Klein Empire went on to become one of the most well-known fashion labels, offering customers a diverse range of products all under one roof.
Klein’s commercial endeavour was an uphill fight, but it reached a pinnacle when he launched his first jeans line, which changed the way people thought about fashion. His introduction of form-fitting jeans to the market garnered him his first mainstream success, as well as cult status for himself and the brand.
Klein moved into the subtle and little-talked-about men’s underwear business just as the world was rolling over the designer-jeans frenzy, and came up with a successful line of boxer shorts that changed the way the world looked at men’s inner wear. Advertisements and billboards depicting nearly-naked models in unusual stances fueled demand.
By the early 1980s, his once-small company had grown into a massive conglomerate with over 12000 locations in six countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
His hugely popular scent brands dominated the 1990s decades. Obsession, Eternity, and Escape, his three big fragrances, were huge hits.
Major Projects of Calvin Klein
While Klein’s sense of style has been praised and sought after from the start of his company, it is his characteristic tight-fitting jeans that have earned him the cult reputation he has today. The jeans changed the way people thought about denim.
The success of the signature jeans served as a foreshadowing of the company’s upcoming venture into men’s innerwear, which led to significant financial gains. His created boxer shorts, dubbed ‘Calvins,’ were a spark for the company’s astounding development rate.
Achievements & Awards
Klein has received awards from a number of fashion bodies around the world. From 1973 to 1975, he won the prestigious Coty Awards three times, making him the youngest designer ever to do so.
In 1981, 1983, and 1993, he got three awards from the Councils of Fashion Designs of America.
Klein was named to the International Best Dressed List in 1983.
He was named to Times Magazine’s list of the 25 most influential Americans in 1996. Calvin Klein’s firm, Calvin Klein Inc., was sold to Phillips Van Heusen Corp. in 2002.
Personal History and Legacy
Calvin Klein married Jayne Centre, who worked as a textile designer, in 1964. Marci, the couple’s daughter, currently works as a Talent Producer for NBC’s Saturday Night Live. In 1974, his marriage to Jayne terminated in divorce.
He married Kelly Rector, his assistant, in 1986. This union didn’t last long, either. The couple split up in 1996 and divorced legally in 2006.
Estimated Net Worth
Calvin Klein has a net worth of $800 million.
Klein was dubbed Calvin Clean because of his clean, basic sportswear designs.