It’s official then, Raf Simons is the new creative head at Clavin Klein. That’s not exactly a major revelation given that rumours have been swirling for months and were all-but-confirmed back in April when Francisco Costa and Italo Zucchelli were shown the door at the brand.
He’ll be overseeing all women’s and men’s brands, ending years of split responsibilities at the American luxury fashion house-cum-jeans giant and intimates specialist.
In fact, this is the first time one single creative head has had that kind of control since Calvin Klein himself exited the brand.
It’s a big job, of course, but one that most big name designers really, really want. Yet if Simons thought the pressure he was under in his previous role at Dior was intense, he probably hasn’t seen anything yet.
Calvin Klein said he’ll be overseeing “all aspects of Design, Global Marketing and Communications, and Visual Creative Services” for a brand that goes from ultra luxury clothes and accessories at eye-watering prices through denim, an intimates label that’s a department store stalwart, eyewear, and a global perfumes business.
Unifying the image of wishlist leather bags with youth fragrances and jersey underwear basics is no small task, especially when that perfume, underwear (and the jeans) are major targets for counterfeiters.
Simons also has to inject a huge dose of credibility back into the catwalk collections. You only have to look at Gucci’s recent experience to see what being a ‘fashion influencer’ can do for a brand’s sales and the Calvin Klein runway collections haven’t enjoyed that status for some time.
And then there’s the marketing. The company came in for heavy criticism this spring after a campaign featured some poor-taste crotch shots. And while the brand’s CMO seemed publicly pleased with the publicity, it’s undeniable that such publicity can be a mixed blessing.
That said, it feels like Simon’s particular brand of understated, on-trend minimalism will be a better fit for Calvin Klein than it was for the sedate salons of Dior. I’ll be watching this one with interest.