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Some History and Background on Calvin Klein

Can you imagine a young boy growing up in Brooklyn in the late 1940’s whose major pre-occupation was designing, sketching and sewing fashionable outfits for women? It is sometimes hard to understand and visualize genius. This particular boy spent his childhood on such projects, and eventually earned himself scholarships to both the New York High School of Art and Design; and the Fashion Institute of Technology at a time when America’s tastes were just emerging as original tastes from an uniquely American experience, rather than a copy of the European masters. 


The boy was Calvin Richard Klein, and his childhood friend Barry Scwartz believed in him to the extent that he supplied the business acumen while Calvin supplied the creative genius. Their first products were coats for women and men; their first customer was the famous Bonwit Teller of New York. With their initial order for Calvin Klein’s coats, so was born the vehicle for the extensive lifestyle enhancing products conceived by this maven of fashion, cosmetics, fragrances, and just plain attitude. 


Ready to wear women’s sportswear. Clean lines and spare shapes, simple yet effective. Men’s fragrances and underwear, designer jeans worn by America’s favorite teasey teen at the time; Brooke Shields. Calvin Klein jeans were like iced tea and lemon, Tracy and Hepburn, Manny, Moe and Jack! Calvin Klein’s totally new concept was designer jeans at an affordable price, and who didn’t have a pair back when Ron Reagan was in the White House? Then his men took over, inspiring America’s truck driving, suit-wearing, disco-dancing average Joes to “Think Underwear”, after seeing what Antonio Sabato Jr. and Mark Wahlberg could do for a pair of jockey’s. Men’s shorts, repeat “Men’s” shorts became sexy, and a category where advanced marketing for men was done instead of just unloading the truck when it pulled up to the dock. Calvin Klein created a desirable market segment out of what had been simply ignored before. 


Then when our guard was down, male and female alike, Calvin Klein launched Obsession, Eternity, Escape, ck One, and Contradiction; all household words of fragrance, all obsessions in their own time. Klein re-defined the word “bold” with regard to marketing, linking sex with scents; blue jeans with Calvin Klein (instead of Levi); and fashion with the statement of who we are whether we are male, female, or a little of both. Klein is not so much a creator of products as an institution, encompassing the Calvin Klein Collection for women, men and the home, ck Calvin Klein for men and women; Calvin Klein Jeans for men, women and kids, as well as a beauty and cosmetics line. 

CK Be was created by Calvin Klein in 1996 and features a fresh oriental woody fragrance that blends musk, mandarin, magnolia, peach, sandalwood, mint, lavender, bergamot, and juniper berry making it a memorable fragrance for both men and women. 

Unique among cosmetics companies is Calvin Klein’s CK Be line of Unisex fragrances. Released in 1996, they are characterized by an oriental woody fragrance that blends musk and ... juniper berry making it a memorable fragrance for both men and women. 

Calvin Klein was the youngest designer ever to be awarded the prestigious Coty Award, in 1973, 1974 and 1975. In 1982, 1983 and 1986, Calvin Klein also won the Council of Fashion Designers of America Award for outstanding design in both women’s wear and men’s wear. He was the first designer ever to receive both honors in the same year. 

Calvin Klein, Inc. is now a globally recognized fashion, design and Retail Company determining the future of fashion design. Calvin Klein is also a household word, not just coats and jeans anymore. Where would we be without him? Those of us who lived through the 80’s would already have died of terminal design boredom.






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