Calvin Klein: Redefining American Fashion

Calvin Richard Klein, born on November 19, 1942, is a prominent Jewish-American fashion designer known for founding the iconic fashion company bearing his name, "Calvin Klein." He also launched several successful fragrance lines under his brand.

Early Life

Calvin Klein was born in the Bronx, New York, to Jewish immigrant parents. He attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City from 1959 to 1962. In 2003, Klein was honored with an honorary doctorate from the same institution. During his time at the institute, he met Jane Schaffer, whom he married in 1964. They had a daughter together. Before becoming an independent designer, he worked as an assistant to designer Dan Millstein, where he contributed to the design of men's coats.

Fashion Empire

In 1968, Calvin Klein co-founded the fashion company "Calvin Klein" with his childhood friend Barry Schwartz. While Klein focused on designing, Schwartz handled the business side of the company. Initially, the company primarily sold women's coats, but it later expanded into sportswear, gaining popularity in the 1970s with a wide range of women's clothing. During this period, Klein introduced his famous line of jeans, revolutionizing the denim industry. He utilized innovative, somewhat provocative advertising campaigns that included sexual undertones, marking a departure from traditional marketing.

In 1982, Klein extended his influence to men's underwear, transforming it from a functional item to a fashionable and desirable product. His groundbreaking approach to marketing and product design changed the perception of men's underwear.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Calvin Klein introduced several popular fragrance lines, including "Obsession," "Eternity," and "Escape." In 1993, he launched the innovative unisex fragrance "cK One," designed for both men and women. In the same year, Klein became the first designer to receive both the men's and women's Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) awards, an unprecedented achievement in the fashion industry. Additionally, in 2005, he introduced another popular fragrance, "Euphoria."

Calvin Klein expanded his fashion empire globally, with stores in Europe, Asia, and Japan. The company encompasses three major branches: Calvin Klein Collection for men, women, and home; cK for men and women; and "cK Jeans" for men, women, and children. Many celebrities have been seen wearing his designs, including Justin Bieber, Julia Roberts, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Sandra Bullock.

Some of Klein's innovative advertising campaigns stirred controversy. Notable examples include the 1993 campaign featuring Kate Moss in a suggestive "heroin chic" style, which drew criticism from then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, and the 1995 ads featuring provocative sexual scenes with young models.

In 1986, Calvin Klein married Kelly Rector, who worked in his company. They divorced in 2006.

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