The founder of the eponymous brand was born on November 19, 1942 in New York in the family of the owner of a modest food store. That is why the area in which Kelvin grew was clearly not the best in the city. This fact only pushed forward the ambitious young man on the way to the famous American dream. Klein himself recalled much later that this is exactly what he likes the States – everyone will get his chance if he has some abilities and is ready for hard work.
From the earliest childhood, Kelvin’s passion was drawing, later he learned how to sew. And although interest in his father’s company was present, the boy nevertheless imitated his mother and grandmother more. The first formed his taste, constantly walking around tailors and shops, and the second taught work on a sewing machine. Kelvin grew up in an atmosphere of women’s talk about dresses, styles and fashion. It’s no wonder that from the age of 5 the boy decided to become a designer. Such a dream allowed Klein to pave his way without thinking.
A young man graduated from the Higher School of Arts, having managed to become one of the best there. In 1960-1962, Klein learned the science of dressing at the New York Fashion Technological Institute. He understood that it was necessary not only to teach theory, but also to have practice. That’s why, along with studying, Kelvin also trains in the studio, doing the cutting of suits. Then 6 years Kelvin studied with different designers in their workshops and even made portraits of passers-by on the streets of the main metropolis of America. Although income did not bring such a way of life, it accumulated an invaluable experience. And in the evenings Klein was doing his own portfolio.
In 1968, Kelvin, along with his friend from childhood, Barry Schwartz, founded the firm Calvin Klein, Ltd. in New York. Schwartz himself financed it, and Klein was supposed to generate ideas. This was how the children’s dream of the Brooklyn boy was realized, becoming a legend. Soon, Kelvin created his first collection, it was exhibited on one of the floors of the hotel. And above on the floor was a trendy boutique.
The director of this store somehow made a mistake on the floor and got it exactly where the novice designer showed his creations. The work of Klein so shocked the entrepreneur that he immediately made an order worth 50 thousand dollars. This victory made Klein famous, he gained financial independence, which allowed him to create his own fashion without looking at anyone.
The designer himself will call the 1970s insane. A successful fashion designer became a part of bohemia and golden youth. He could not resist and plunged into a sea of entertainment and vices – alcohol, drugs, promiscuous sex. Somehow, Klein still had time to work on his own brand. If initially his studio produced men’s outerwear, then eventually Klein switches to women.
In the 1970s, he was able to adapt a classic men’s suit for ladies. The model was called PeaCoat, or pea jacket. It was a short double-breasted coat with wide lapels. The model became not just a hit of the season, but actually determined the direction of development of women’s clothing for the next ten years. Creations Klein realized the main principle of fashion in America. It was believed that a modest dress can be considered chic, because the main thing is how it is sewn.
In 1973, Kelvin Klein received a weighty reward for his flawless and refined clothes – the “Kochi” award. She became the youngest of her laureates. The fashion designer does not stop to stop. Next year he creates his own collection of accessories and fur garments. But further development of the talented way was simply uninteresting – Klein begins to prepare a real sensation, the first of those that he will shake and the world of fashion and the entire moralized American society.
In 1978 Klein was the first in the world to introduce designer jeans. Previously, these clothes felt inexpensive and everyday, but Kelvin managed to present it as stylish, sexy. This is what was required for the liberated youth.Thanks to the excellent cut, the figure perfectly fitted, which allowed to emphasize the harmony of the legs and their length. And on the back pocket were placed the logos of the designer himself, Calvin Clein and Omega.
Even the advertising of new clothes was provocative. In 1980, thanks to cooperation with photographer Bruce Weber, a defiant poster of jeans appeared. In the photo, the smiling teenager was still Brooke Shields, who later became a movie star and sex symbol. At the bottom of the poster was a provocative text: “Do you know that there is nothing between me and my jeans? ..”
In the country there was a scandal, Klein was accused of using children in almost pornographic photo sessions. As a result, the noise was silenced, and the jeans had to be removed from production. Only in 1998 the classic model was again launched for sale.
In 1982, Klein came up with a collection of underwear for men. In advertising, calling to wear new underwear with a wide corset elastic band and branded inscription, the rapper Marki Mark and supermodel West appeared. For the first time the half-naked male body became an aesthetic symbol. And let the models Klein accused of excessive sexuality, the designer himself says that his underwear is for those who want to attract the gaze of the opposite sex.
In the 1980s, Klein devoted himself to the production of new jeans and linens. His ads are constantly accompanied by scandals, becoming already part of the created personal image. For example, the poster “The Last Supper from Klein” simply aroused the resentment of believers. It showed a famous biblical scene, only the heroes were semi-nude models in jeans. The church even put forward a claim of a million dollars, which Klein had to pay.
However, Klein realized that this was part of the success. In 1992, America was again shocked. This year is considered the beginning of the emergence of a new youth style, unisex. Klein released a new poster that featured a young yet model Kate Moss and the same rapper Mark Marc. The poster depicted thin people, similar figures on each other with figures, hairstyles and clothes. The models were also semi-nude. The idea was that the new clothes from the scandalous designer could look equally good on both the guys and the girls.
Young people took this idea to cheers, the new style immediately began to sell well. And in 1999 Klein again creates a new scandalous advertisement. His new line is underwear for teens and children. As a result, provocative photos with children were considered unnecessarily frivolous. Again, in order to avoid further accusations, the advertising campaign was suspended, Klein himself brought an apology to the society.
The very empire of the fashion designer has been constantly growing. A small atelier turned into a huge enterprise with an annual turnover of 5 billion dollars. Klein led an intelligent marketing policy that created an image of his brand and stable associations with it for buyers. And scandals and conflicts only helped to create an original image of products, which began to symbolize sexuality, youth, relaxedness. Yes, and Klein himself was one of the first who began to offer his customers a complete set of clothing – from underwear and fashion accessories.
After the positions in the US and Europe became stable, Klein began to promote his brand to the East. His boutiques appeared in Kuwait, Jakarta and Hong Kong. One of Klein’s secrets was a quick reaction to changing world trends in fashion. So, at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, he was one of the first to turn to the “military” style. The brand presented a coat-overcoat, knee-pants and skirts to the knees in the khaki color.
Along with the clothes, Klein began offering flavors, each of which has a male and female variant. In 1983 appeared “Eternity”, in 1985 – “Obsession”, and in 1986 – “Otdushina”. Thanks to these smells, the style of dressing became even more emphasized, and by themselves they became popular. It is no coincidence that today the perfume line from Kelvin Klein is almost the most forged in the world.In 1998, the most famous fragrance was released – “Controversy”. It is believed that the smell will suit those who are used to solving their problems on their own.
Although the brand has a scandalous reputation, it occupies an important place in the world fashion. Yes, and colleagues themselves, competitors agree with this. Klein himself received the “Coty” award three times in 1973-175. Four times he received the national awards of the United States in the field of fashion, it is about the American Fashion Awards. When presenting another such award, the president of the Council of Fashion Designers said that Kelvin, like no one, is worthy of the award for his contribution to the development of fashion.
The stormy 1970s passed, and the fashion designer settled down. In 1986, he married again, on his assistant Kelly Rector. The first marriage with Jane Center lasted 10 years in 1964-1974 and gave the designer a daughter. Now the couple bought a dwelling on the beach, in East Hampton. Now Klein leads an approximate and healthy lifestyle – he swims, runs in the morning.
And in his spare time fashion guru visits his favorite exotic restaurants. Klein argues that wealth and fame allow him to deal with good food. The designer is full of ideas and plans, and his personal life is boiling. After another divorce in 2006, he managed to even meet with pornographer Nick Gruber, who is younger than Klein for 48 years.