Calvin Klein today confirmed what has been fashion’s worst-kept secret for months, naming Raf Simons as creative director of all of its women’s and men’s brands. The appointment ends more than nine months of speculation. An announcement had been expected this week.
Simons will lead the creative strategy of the Calvin Klein brand globally. Brands under the Calvin Klein umbrella include Calvin Klein Collection; Calvin Klein Platinum; Calvin Klein; Calvin Klein Jeans; Calvin Klein Underwear and Calvin Klein Home brands. The company said Simons will oversee all aspects of design, global marketing and communications and visual creative services. His first collections will be shown for the fall 2017 season.
The company said the appointment of Simons marks the implementation of Calvin Klein’s new global creative strategy that was noted in April. The strategy aims to unify all Calvin Klein brands under one creative vision. It is part of the global evolution of the brand that began with the reacquisition of the Calvin Klein Jeans and Calvin Klein Underwear businesses in 2013 by PVH Corp.
The company said that the Calvin Klein brand “looks to grow [the business] to $10 billion in global retail sales,” and that the new leadership is intended to further strengthen the brand’s premium positioning worldwide and pave the way for long-term global growth.
Steve Shiffman, chief executive officer of Calvin Klein Inc., said, “Not since Mr. Klein himself was at the company has it been led by one creative visionary, and I am confident that this decision will drive the Calvin Klein brand and have a significant impact on its future. Raf’s exceptional contributions have shaped and modernized fashion as we see it today and, under his direction, Calvin Klein will further solidify its position as a leading global lifestyle brand.”
The company also said it hired Simons’ longtime associate Pieter Mulier as creative director. Mulier, who has worked with Simons from the early days of his own men’s wear label and followed him to Christian Dior, reports directly to Simons. Mulier will be responsible for executing Simons’ creative and design vision for men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, and the bridge and better apparel lines and accessories. The company said he will also manage all men’s and women’s design teams within the Calvin Klein brand, under Simons’ leadership.
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WWD first heard whispers that Simons might head to Klein last summer, and was the first to report last November that the designer was being tapped to head Calvin Klein’s design department.
At that time, the industry had been buzzing for weeks that the former artistic director of Christian Dior for women’s haute couture, ready-to-wear and accessory collections was being recruited for the top creative role at Calvin Klein. The departures of Francisco Costa as creative director of Calvin Klein women’s Collection and Italo Zucchelli as creative director of men’s Collection only added to the speculation that Simons was heading to the iconic American brand.
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But Simons had a stringent, non-compete contract with Dior that sources said expired at the end of July, at last freeing him to join Klein. However, it is understood the designer relocated to New York some time last month and has already begun preliminary meetings with key Klein staff. His first collection would likely be for fall 2017.
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While Emanuel Chirico, chairman and chief executive officer of PVH Corp., has been continually mum on Simons’ hire, he told WWD at the company’s annual meeting in June, “We would hope that a decision will be made in the near future and as events unfold, we’ll be sure everyone’s brought up to speed.” He added, “The plan would be that there would be one creative visionary for the brand, similar to when Calvin ran the business directly.”