Calvin Klein has confirmed its exit from the luxury fashion collections business to focus on its denim and underwear businesses.
The brand’s owner PVH said in January that it was developing a new strategy for the brand after the abrupt departure in December of global creative chief Raf Simons, the former chief designer at Dior who had joined the business in 2016.
At the time Steve Shiffman, chief executive officer of Calvin Klein, said it was developing a new strategy for the Calvin Klein 205W39NYC collection introduced by Simons, and was seeking a successor, but it has emerged the line has been closed altogether, along with the Calvin Klein by Appointment business, and its flagship store in New York.
The move has also led to 50 staff losing their jobs in New York and a further 50 in Milan. Michelle Kessler-Sanders, president of Calvin Klein 205W39NYC and Calvin Klein by Appointment (which created designs for high profile clients and celebrities) will also be leaving the business but is staying on in the interim to oversee the closure, after which she may continue to consult for the business.
PVH revealed last year that it had spent between $60m-$70m on developing Calvin Klein 205W39NYC and Calvin Klein by Appointment but that it had been disappointed with the return on investment. In an announcement at the end of the year that was seen as a precursor to Simons’ departure PVH 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.”
Calvin Klein’s luxury collections, previously designed by Francisco Costa and Italo Zuchelli, had always been seen as a marketing exercise to promote its denim, underwear, fragrance and home wares. The appointment of Simons, to such great fanfare, was the brand’s attempt to create a true luxury line that would be a profitable enterprise in its own right.
Simons was given full creative control over the brand, its stores and advertising but some questioned the match as the Belgian designer, while undoubtedly talented, was seen as too high brow and high end for what is effectively a “mass-tige” [mass prestige] brand.