- Klein, Calvin
- (1942- )Born in the Bronx, New York, Klein first learned fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology and, after a few design positions in the moderate-priced market, opened his own business with his friend Barry Schwartz in 1968. Klein developed a line of coats and suits. He impressed a buyer at Bonwit Teller with the fine tailoring of his garments together with his refreshing approach to color. This provided an entrance to the then-president of Bonwit's and Calvin Klein Limited received the support necessary to gain a position in the industry. Klein became a client of the great fashion publicist, Eleanor Lambert, whose guidance helped shape his early career. Classic lines, uncluttered looks—these are elements that contribute to a design being a true Calvin. He gave American fashion significant definition. He integrated elements of active sportswear into his collections, yet at the same time kept them soft. He is most famous for his advertising shock appeal, his business savvy, and his intuitiveness in creating American sportswear.Klein was the first designer to include jeans on the runway. He also became a household name in the 1970s with his famous jeans ad campaign featuring model and actress Brooke Shields, who stated "nothing came between her and her Calvins." In the 1980s, Klein blurred genders with his line of underwear that had his name embroidered into the elastic waistband and the line's accompanying ad campaign that appealed to jocks, gays, and women. He jumpstarted his fragrance line with the introduction of Obsession and again seized the power of advertising with the great photographer Richard Avedon to put this fragrance on the map. Klein received his first Coty Award in 1973.The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) honored Klein with awards in 1982, 1983, and 1986. In the 1990s, Klein expanded to include distribution of his products to Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The company was sold in 2003 to Phillips-Van Heusen, which is one of the world's largest apparel companies. It is now the owner and marketer of the Calvin Klein brand worldwide. In 2004, Klein turned his attention to the outerwear market, an area that he had addressed only sporadically over his years in business. He signed a licensing agreement with Marvin Richards to manufacture and distribute this line. In 2005, Calvin Klein, Inc., entered into an agreement with Fingen S.p.A. to manufacture and distribute the Calvin Klein Collection brand women's and men's designer collection and accessories. Tod's S.p.A. is presently the licensee for Calvin Klein jeans in Europe and Asia and CK (Calvin Klein Bridge) in Europe. Additionally, Klein signed a licensing agreement with G-III Apparel to manufacture and distribute women's better suits under the Calvin Klein label. Brazilian-born Francisco Costa holds the role of creative director for the women's collection and Italo Zucchelli for the men's. Klein's vast empire in fashion encompasses apparel and a range of product that is manufactured and marketed through myriad license agreements.
Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. Francesca Sterlacci and Joanne Arbuckle.