Rumors of Calvin Klein shutting down its luxury division has been floating for some time now. Last week, we finally had a confirmation from the American brand itself, but it did not end up as anything surprising.
The announcement comes months after PVH, the group that owns Calvin Klein, booted out Raf Simons from his position as its creative director. Simons, who prior to his appointment at Calvin Klein was with Dior, was let go eight months before his contract was up because the high profile assignment failed to translate into greater revenue for the brand.
Taking a highly esteemed European designer and putting it as its helm was supposedly Calvin Klein’s attempt at bringing back the brand’s glory days under its namesake designer, during which a single entity had complete artistic control and direction over the house. But as it turns out, Simons’ runway collections, which became known as Calvin Klein 205W39NYC, was too high-brow for the brand’s target market, which preferred its underwear and jeans collections, at least according to PVH.
Not too long after Simons’ leaving, Calvin Klein also closed its collection flagship store in New York. In the process, it laid off 100 employees, which also includes Michelle Kessler-Sanders, the 205W39NYC president of ready-to-wear although her leaving will take effect in June. Its Milan office has also suffered losses, and it has been announced that Calvin Klein by Appointment will be closing.
Initially, it was thought that the brand will be starting a new luxury division that will steer away from 205W39NYC. However, recent developments prove that it is taking the other direction instead, and will focus more on its middle class consumers than its luxury patrons. Previously, it operated under the so-called “halo” effect just like other American brands Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors in which its relatively accessible releases are based off of its high-end line and brands heavily relied on the name recognition that a positive reception would cause.
This time, the brand will dedicate itself to its underwear and denim collections, which are considered as the brand’s cash cows. It still is searching for a creative director to oversee the changes, although one that would probably not have be as distinguished as Simons. According to CEO Steve Shiffman, the brand is currently in the process of developing what it calls to be an ‘aspirational’ piece. We have yet to see if the move is more appropriate for the brand, although we could probably expect more campaigns led by celebrities, the likes of which include the Kardashians and Justin Bieber, as well as influencers with significant followings.
Image credits: Angela Weiss/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, Calvin Klein, Getty Images, Westend Mall