After nine months of obvious speculation – Calvin Klein has just announced Raf Simons the new chief creative officer of the brand.
Simons is a Belgian-based designer, originally born in Neerpelt. Simons received his degree in industrial and furniture design in 1991. This education quickly transitioned from home goods to fashion as Simons launched his first street-inspired men’s wear collection in 1995.
Simons has previously worked as creative director for Jil Sander between 2005 and 2012. There, he introduced new themes of dresses and eveningwear to Sander’s sleek and tailored aesthetic. Then in 2012, Simons was appointed Christian Dior’s sixth couturier as he brought his modern and minimalist style to predecessor John Galliano’s retro haute couture.
In the midst of his work for Calvin Klein, Raf will continue to work on his own men’s wear label.
Although Simons’ proves quite impressive on his resume, there are many skeptics of his self-trained expertise in the fashion world. Is it wise to place the iconic American brand in the hands of a Belgian who has no official fashion education and furthermore, who has never dipped his proverbial toe in the U.S. fashion market? Calvin Klein’s parent PVH Corp., believes that with Simons’ appointment to the brand, they will create a $10 billion company from their current $8 billion status.
Since Simons’ exit from Dior in October, WWD reports he has been under a strict non-compete contract with LVMH Möet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. As of now, the designer is well on his way to christening Calvin’s commercial throne as the brand’s overseer of all creative strategy for both women and men labels. This includes Calvin Klein Collection, Calvin Klein Platinum, Calvin Klein, Calvin Klein Jeans, Calvin Klein Underwear and Calvin Klein Home.
In addition to his aesthetic aspirations, Simmons will also commandeer global communications and marketing control, which will allow him to insert himself in the brand’s major ad campaigns. Aka the iconic images of #MyCalvins featuring Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner and a host of other sensual figures.
The former man behind the brand, Calvin Klein, himself, wishes Raf Simons the best of luck: “I wish Raf great success. I believe the company is taking a positive direction for the future of the brand.”
Simons appointment comes as the brand tries to reconcile the creative vision under one management official. The last person to oversee the entirety of the Calvin Klein aesthetic was Calvin Klein, himself. Simons succeeds Francisco Costa, the creative director of the women’s Collection, and men’s director, Italo Zucchelli, who shared the responsibility of the brand’s aesthetic. The Raf Simons hire marks Calvin Klein’s global initiative to unify the brand under one common aesthetic.
Calvin Klein, the man, told Sirius XM radio in June that “they just finally made changes in the design staff. They are doing something that I had hoped they would have done, which is replace me. Find someone who can with a singular vision oversee everything that is creative.”
Steve Shiffman, Calvin Klein’s CEO and Simons’ new boss, is also extremely optimistic about the future for Calvin under Simons’ leadership:
“Not since Mr. Klein himself was at the company has it been led by one creative visionary, and I am confident that this decision will drive the Calvin Klein brand and have a significant impact on its future. Raf’s exceptional contributions have shaped and modernized fashion as we see it today, and under his direction, Calvin Klein will further solidify its position as a leading global lifestyle brand.”
A tall order, but thankfully, Simons won’t be doing it alone. Yesterday, Simons appointed Pieter Mulier as his creative director for women’s and men’s ready-to-wear. Mulier will help Raf manage all the women’s and men’s design teams as well. This hire comes as no surprise as the duo have previously worked together at Jil Sanders, with Mulier has the head designer of the brand’s women’s and men’s accessories. Mulier is also a designer for Simons’ own men’s wear collection.
So, where will Raf Simons’ first mark be made on the Calvin Klein brand? Sources say Simons’ first collection will be shown in February, featuring his fall 2017 looks.
Until then, only time will tell how this self-made, Belgian-born designer will transform the American mogul that is, Calvin Klein.