raf simons exits calvin klein
"Both parties have amicably decided to part ways after Calvin Klein Inc. decided on a new brand direction which differs from Simons’ creative vision," the company said in a statement.
Photography Willy Vanderperre. Styling Olivier Rizzo.
Rumours have been circling for a little while, but last night the news was officially confirmed: Raf Simons is leaving Calvin Klein. Having spent less than two years at the helm of the brand as Chief Creative Officer, Raf departs eight months before his contract ends, cancelling Calvin Klein’s February NYFW show.
According to The New York Times, the reasons behind his premature departure are said to be linked to comments made by Calvin Klein parent PVH Corp. Chief Executive Emanuel Chirico in November, about the brand’s inconsistent profits this year. During an announcement of third quarter earnings, Chirico said; “While many of the product categories performed well, we are disappointed by the lack of return on our investments in our Calvin Klein 205W39NYC halo business and believe that some of the Calvin Klein Jeans’ relaunched product was too elevated and did not sell through as well as we planned.”
The Belgian designer’s attempt to create more elevated, avant-garde seasonal collections -- under the newly christened catwalk collection Calvin Klein 205W39NYC -- rather than the casual denim and underwear the brand had historically been known for had started well.
His debut collection shown during New York Fashion Week in February 2017, was one of the most highly-anticipated debuts of recent times. Mixing classic American iconography with cinematic references it won praise from the global fashion press for its fresh interpretation of iconic staples - such as the varsity jacket, the cowboy boot and the band uniform - placing Calvin Klein once again at the forefront of the fashion industry. In the two years since, Raf went on to win two CFDA’s for Designer of the Year, partner with artist Sterling Ruby and the Andy Warhol Foundation, appointed hyped young celebs such as Paris Jackson and Millie Bobby Brown as brand ambassadors and enlisted the Kardashians for the brand’s more commercial-friendly underwear campaigns, garnering heavy coverage and visibility. Yet despite the industry hype, commercially it had failed to fly. Then again, it’s never been harder to sell cult Americana than in Trump’s America.
With black heart emoji’s filling up Calvin Klein’s Instagram feed from disgruntled fans, what direction the brand will go in next remains to be seen, as does Raf’s next move. So for now, let’s look back at the clothes in i-D’s Calvin Klein collection story, shot by Willy Vanderperre and styled by Olivier Rizzo, in The Acting Up Issue.