Calvin Klein Styling Itself as Luxury Powerhouse at New York Fashion Week

American design house needs to prove that it belongs with the European luxury brands.

September 3, 2017 10:25 am
Calvin Klein
Designer Raf Simons walks the runway during the Raf Simons - Runway - NYFW: Men's July 2017 on July 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images)

Heading into Thursday’s opening night of New York Fashion Week, Calvin Klein is continuing its efforts to wriggle out of its long-running image as a mainstream jean company.

Coming off the hiring of fashion designer Raf Simons last year — and his triumphant debut runway show in February — the American fashion house has been moving to compete with the luxury brands from Europe.

As The Wall Street Journal puts it, “The American fashion industry is counting on Calvin Klein to give a much-needed boost to fashion week, which this year suffered a blow when some of its biggest draws—Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, Thom Browne and Altuzarra—opted to show in Paris instead.

“Meanwhile, the global fashion industry is closely watching to see how the revival of an iconic American brand plays out.”

There’s been a shift from the business model that dates back to 1968, when Calvin Klein started the company business partner Barry Schwartz. Using young celebrities like Brooke Shields and Kate Moss, the fashion house rose to a popular jeans and perfume powerhouse accessible to the masses at Macy’s. But in recent years, it hasn’t been considered cutting edge at all.

That reworking of the 50-year-old label under CEO Steve Shiffman, who took the post in 2014, has included a new logo and new designs, with an emphasis on higher-end clothing without ditching the midprice lines that are the company’s calling card.

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