KALVI’S KLAN: Photographer Jan-Dirk van der Burg has turned his strange obsession of collecting knockoff Calvin Klein underwear into a sort of art.
This story first appeared in the March 12, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Van der Burg unveiled his book, which he calls more of a “pastiche and a brochure,” of photographs of male models wearing faux-Calvins on Vice.com Wednesday. Compiled by Vice photo editor Matthew Leifheit, the story gives readers a glimpse of the book, “Calvin Klein — The Dyslexic Collection,” which nods to CK Underwear’s black-and-white advertising campaigns.
The images show male models donning what Leifheit calls the “typo-ridden undies,” which were procured throughout Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Common misspellings include: “Calven Kliem,” “Calvani Klain,” “Colvin Kloin,” “Calven Klei,” “Galvin Klain” and “Kalvi Klan” — van der Burg’s personal favorite.
“It’s the furthest from [an infringement] of a copyright claim,” van der Burg said via phone from Amsterdam. “While the quality varies a lot, the Kalvi Klan briefs, I do wear often with joy. For me, it was kind of fashionable. There are just some small changes [in spelling].”
The photographer said he has about 30 different pairs of knock-off Calvins, 11 of which have different misspellings.
Van der Burg contacted Leifheit after he learned of his shared interest in knockoffs.
“A few years ago, I bought a bootleg ‘Louiz Vuttom’ watch at a market in Ramallah, and thought it would be interesting to do something about brand adaptation or appropriation by counterfeiters, but it was only a passing thought,” the Vice editor said. “When Jan-Dirk e-mailed me about the project, I was really impressed to see the dedication he had put into finding all of these variations of undies, and the detailed notes he kept on where to locate them.”
Calvin Klein did not reply to requests for comment on van der Burg’s collection, or Vice’s coverage of it.
But there may be more from van der Burg, who admitted to collecting other knockoff paraphernalia adorned with Facebook and Apple logos. His latest acquisitions include underwear with a picture of an iPhone and Apple logo, as well as a bottle of Facebook-branded perfume.
“Every product you can think of, in China, they put a Facebook or Apple logo on it,” he said. “The Facebook perfume that I bought for my girlfriend — it’s not even that bad.”