NEW YORK -- Calvin Klein might be the hottest name in fashion.
On Monday, the Council of Fashion Designers of America will honor him with both its women's wear and men's wear designer awards -- unprecedented dual plaudits.
And following the sale of Klein's underwear company to Warnaco for $64 million -- making him flush with cash -- his firm is in the kind of secure position it hasn't enjoyed since the early Eighties. The sale signaled a move to convert the firm into a lean, mean, licensing machine, and the next rumored deal is one to produce jeans with Rio Sportswear. To most people, it's an amazing turnaround for a company that only two years ago had to sell its junk bonds to Klein's best friend, David Geffen. But it's no surprise to Calvin. In a wide-ranging conversation with WWD, he insists that what's happening is less a comeback than the result of a long-term strategy that's now paying off.
"I set my goals, and I'm doing it," he says. "I'm just happy there are enough people who do get it."
WWD: The women's and men's CFDA awards. The sale of your underwear company to Warnaco. No more debt. Do you think of this as your year, your moment?
CK: All I keep thinking about is the opportunities. And I keep thinking about the work, the process, how much I love it and how I can expand it. I really don't think any person owns a year. I see what I'm doing now as part of a process that I started actively about four years ago.
WWD: There's been some speculation that the sale to Warnaco was a way of wiping clean the company's debt in preparation for a public offering.
CK: I promise you, all I think about is how to build a really successful business, one where we take advantage of the opportunities that we have, of the franchise we have built, of the name. And one where we can make a real substantial profit. That's the strategy. If going public one day appears in that strategy, I wouldn't rule it out. But I'm not thinking about that now at all.
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"