Fashion

Why Calvin Klein Fired Chief Creative Officer Raf Simons

It has been recently announced that Raf Simons, chief creative officer of Calvin Klein, left the company. After two years working for the brand, Simons exited eight months prior to the end of his contract, which means that he will not be presenting another collection at the coming New York Fashion Week in February. It has been stated by the company that Simons’ creative direction was unprofitable for the brand despite multiple fashion awards for his work at Calvin Klein. His leave may not be as prominent as that of Phoebe Philo exiting Céline, but for such a high-profile fashion designer, it is surely something that will bring consequences to the brand.

Raf Simons is a Belgian fashion designer who has previously worked with Dior and Jil Sander and created his own label, Raf Simons. The clothing garments he designs are notable for their bright colours and mostly strict lines. However, with that being said, some of his designs are made out of flowy fabric and have a shape that is far from classic. Considering this, it can be said that Simons designs clothing that fits all tastes, as he uses a variety of colours and shapes. Simons’ time at Dior has been a huge success for the brand, bringing its revenues up to $1.94 billion.

Dior Spring 2016, by Raf Simons. Image Credit: Bisous Magazine

In 2016, he was appointed Chief Creative Officer of Calvin Klein, overseeing everything from Fashion Design to Global Communication within the brand. In fact, it was stated by the CEO of the company himself that with the appointment of Simons, the brand’s stance would be solidified in the lifestyle field. Simons’ entrance into the world of Calvin Klein seemed opportune – the different brands under Calvin Klein, like Home, Platinum, Jeans and Underwear were to be united under the creative direction of the one Raf Simons. Considering his success at Dior, it seemed that it was only a matter of time before Simons would bring Calvin Klein’s revenues up.

His success spoke for itself – winning multiple fashion awards, Simons seemed to be the right choice for Calvin Klein. As a way to push American art, Simons partnered Calvin Klein with The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The foundation granted Simons access to all of Warhol’s work, allowing him to use it in campaigns as clothing prints and in fashion shows. In the 1970s, Calvin Klein himself befriended Andy Warhol because of their similar vision of a new American essence. Forty years later, this relationship has been renewed with this collaboration, and Andy Warhol’s art returned back into trend.

Calvin Klein Fall 2017 at New York Fashion Week, by Raf Simons. Image Credit: The Cut
Calvin Klein Fall 2017 at New York Fashion Week, by Raf Simons. Image Credit: Man In Town

Undoubtedly, Simons entering Calvin Klein changed the brand’s general style. More colourful garments were introduced into the brand, but overall, the casual and classy look was continued. Neutrals, pastels and an occasional orange or navy were switched to vibrant yellow, gold and red – to name a few colours. Another notable aspect of his work at Calvin Klein is the fact that most models walking his shows were of a more healthy complexion, which should have made the clothes more appealing for the average customer. Simons was to make the brand more colourful and attractive, and yet, he failed to attract the customers.

Months before the end of his contract, Simons was fired from Calvin Klein. The PVH group, which owns Calvin Klein, released a statement: “Both parties have amicably decided to part ways after Calvin Klein Inc. decided on a new brand direction which differs from Simons’s creative vision.” Simons’ time at Calvin Klein did not bring much profit. Some say it was because of all the money devoted to the collaboration with The Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, which was, according to an industry insider, met with indifference from consumers. Perhaps, it was not the clothes themselves that were not appealing to the customer, but rather the lack of skilful fund management that led to little profit.

Calvin Klein Spring 2018, by Raf Simons in cooperation with The Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Image Credit: L’Officel

Due to Simons’ leave, Calvin Klein will not be presenting a runway show at the New York Fashion Week in February. It is uncertain about who will be taking the over the brand now that Simons has left.

Featured Image  via Harper’s Bazaar

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