Calvin Klein is ready to prove it can perform in the activewear arena.
This story first appeared in the September 8, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
After a soft launch for spring 2008, Calvin Klein Performance is nearly quadrupling its door count to more than 200 doors and is announcing itself publicly with its first ad campaign.
“Millions” of dollars are being spent on Calvin Klein Performance’s marketing push over the next few years that bows this fall, according to Calvin Klein Inc. and licensee G-III Apparel Group Ltd. The first ad breaks next week in The New York Times. Then from September through November, the black-and-white images shot by Nathaniel Goldberg of model Alyssa Sutherland doing yoga — her yoga instructor consulted on the shoot to help ensure authenticity — will appear in magazines, from Shape to Elle, and on billboards in cities including New York, Los Angeles and Seattle.
“We wanted a campaign that was powerful and bold, and the black-and-white is iconic to the brand,” said Kevin Carrigan, creative director of ck Calvin Klein and Calvin Klein brands at Calvin Klein Inc. “We have such a history with the body, from our underwear and swimwear to our sexy tank dresses, and we’ve been talking about this opportunity for a long time.”
The line, which retails from $24 to $229, soft-launched in 60 doors, expanded to more than 200 department store doors for fall and is adding the sporting goods channel for spring. From last spring to this fall, existing accounts like Macy’s and Lord & Taylor have expanded their orders and door counts, said Sammy Aaron, vice chairman of G-III. The companies declined to give volume projections.
The line covers sports from cycling, Pilates and yoga to tennis, running and “lunching,” said Aaron.
Calvin Klein Performance turns away from men’s-focused sportier lines to a more feminine and “cooler” product with the Calvin Klein aesthetic evident in the shapes, such as an extended sleeve or a tall elegant collar, according to Carrigan.
“We’re known for being a neutral house, but I wanted to make sure there was color in the line. Calvin did a show in the early Nineties when he used a lot of technical fabrics and talked about how he wanted to use primary brights,” Carrigan said. “Layering of color and colorblocking is important to the house, and we brought that use of bold color to the line.”
Fabrics, such as compression knits and cotton Lycra, boast performance properties including wicking and antimicrobial. Instead of woven tags, “Calvin Klein Performance” is heat-sealed onto the fabrics in a silver font. No other logo or branding is evident.
G-III also holds Calvin Klein licenses for women’s and men’s coats, women’s suits, dresses and, as of last month, women’s sportswear.
“This expands our Calvin Klein business: The consumer target is a nice spread of anyone who cares about fitness, regardless of age, and it expands our distribution into a new channel of sporting goods stores,” said Aaron. “And now that G-III is the sportswear licensee for Calvin Klein [white label], this is really an appendage to sportswear, rounding out the lifestyle.”