WORDS Conrad Bischoff
It’s been dubbed “the worst-kept secret in fashion” right now after months of speculation and rumor spreading. Will Raf Simons be taking over as the head “creative visionary” for Calvin Klein? You’ve probably already heard that Calvin himself alluded to some truth behind the rumor weeks ago, and the just released WWD July 2016 cover has been dedicated to the story. Would a mere rumor have the merit of such publicity? I certainly don’t think so, which means it’s probably not even technically correct to keep calling it a rumor; it’s a secret that everyone knows. The irony is as palpable as a new pair of Calvins.
Speaking of irony, the WWD article introduces the interesting retrospective point of Raf having left Dior after feeling overwhelmed by the pace at which he was expected to create, and his wanting to focus on his own brand and personal life. Is Calvin Klein going to allow Raf much more space? Probably not, considering Fransisco Costa (creative director of women’s collection) and Italo Zucchelli (creative director of men’s collection), left the company last spring and the existing department heads would also be expected to report to him, the sole creative visionary. If Raf really was looking for some sort of break, this probably isn't it. WWD also reported that the company is looking to raise its current 8 billion dollars worth of global sales to 10 billion with the appointment of an individual to this new role, and it certainly might.
Calvin Klein’s men and women’s collections have taken the backseat to the brand’s underwear and jeans, especially after the release of the brand’s now signature “I ____ in my Calvins” campaigns. The campaigns feature a dynamic cast of individuals; everyone from Grace Coddington to Young Thug have been featured in the advertisements alongside their very own “I ____ in my Calvins” tagline. It’s a brand that’s come to focus less on the easy sex appeal of its 90’s ads and more on emphasizing and empowering the individual. Should this same mindset transfer over to the brand’s runway collections due to a more unified creative vision, then perhaps the collections will be something to look forward to as much as next season’s set of campaign photos. However, the key feature for a brand to embody an aesthetic such as the one we keep seeing everywhere is wearability. This introduces another point of speculation concerning the brand’s future under Raf.
After all, underwear and jeans are about as wearable as we can imagine our everyday ensembles to get. Minimalist, striking, and innovative are some words that have been applied to Raf’s work thus far, but I don’t necessarily think of “wearable” when I think of Raf Simons. I was just as impressed by the way he brought together Mapplethorpe’s photographs and fashion in his last menswear collection at his eponymous label, but I found myself feeling less inclined to actually purchase any of the products that went down the runway than just appreciate them as well articulated works of art. Whether or not Simons will be able to weave the wearability of Calvin Klein into his existing technique, and keep a level head while doing so, will definitely captivate the industry should his position at the brand finally be confirmed.