CALVIN KLEIN Biography - Socialites, celebrities and People in the fashion industry


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Name: Calvin Klein                                                                   
Calvin Klein Inc. is an American clothing company founded in 1968 by Calvin         
In 1968, Klein and his childhood friend Barry Schwartz, who was to manage the       
business, then initially founded Calvin Klein Ltd., a coat shop in the York         
Hotel, in New York City with $10,000. Legend has it that a year later a buyer       
from Bonwit Teller got off the elevator on the wrong floor, and ended up placing     
a $50,000 order. It is more likely though, that Klein showed his work to Bonwit     
Teller staff, which led to the first Calvin Klein collection: a line of men's       
and women's coats featured at the New York City store.                               
In 1969, Mr. Klein, who was later described as "the supreme master of minimalism,"   
appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine. By 1971, sportswear, classic blazers as     
well as lingerie were added to his women's collection portfolio.                     
In 1973, he was awarded the Coty Award for the first time, which he received for     
three consecutive years, for his 74-piece womenswear collection. By 1977, annual     
revenues had jumped to $30 million, and he had licenses for scarves, shoes,         
belts, furs, sunglasses, and sheets. Klein and Schwartz were making $4 million       
each. After the company signed licenses for cosmetics, jeans, and menswear,         
Klein's annual retail volume was estimated at $100 million. In 1978, Klein           
claimed sales of 200,000 pairs of his famous jeans the first week they were on       
the market. By 1981, Fortune magazine figured Klein's annual income at $8.5         
million a year. In the mid-1970s, he had created a designer-jeans craze by           
putting his name on the back pocket. The jeans were famously advertised with a       
commercial featuring a 15-year-old Brooke Shields cooing in 1979/80 that "nothing   
comes between me and my Calvins" and "I've got seven Calvins in my closet, and       
if they could talk, I'd be ruined." Controversial advertising, including a           
series of ads featuring adolescents in sexually evocative poses, has been a         
recurring theme for the company. Shields advertised for Klein underwear in 1984     
as well.                                                                             
In the late 1970s, the company also made attempts to set up its own fragrance       
and cosmetics business, but soon withdrew from the market with big financial         
losses. In the 1980s, as the designer-jeans frenzy reached its all-time high,       
Calvin Klein introduced a highly successful line of boxer shorts for women and a     
men’s underwear collection which would later gross $70 million in a single year.   
Calvin Klein’s underwear business, promoted later in the 1990s with giant         
billboards showing images of pop singer "Marky Mark" Mark Wahlberg, was so           
successful that his underpants became generally known as "Calvins."                 
The stunning growth continued through the early eighties. The licensing program,     
which brought in $24,000 when it was initiated in 1974, had royalty income of $7.3   
million ten years later. That year, worldwide retail sales were estimated at         
more than $600 million. Klein's clothes were sold through 12,000 stores in the       
United States and were available in six other countries. His annual income           
passed $12 million.                                                                 
Financial problems, increased pressure from all sides, disagreements with the       
licensee of the menswear line and its disappointing sales as well as an enormous     
employee turnover both within Calvin Klein and its licensing partners led to the     
first rumors that Calvin Klein Industries, as the company had been known by then,   
was up for sale. And indeed, in late 1987, it was said that the sale of the         
company to Triangle Industries, a container manufacturer, had only failed           
because of the crashing stock market.                                               
Although the company almost faced bankruptcy in 1992, Calvin Klein managed to       
regain and increase the profitability of his empire throughout the later 90s,       
mainly through the success of its highly popular underwear and fragrance lines,     
as well as the ck sportswear line. Mr. Klein was named "America's Best Designer"     
for his minimalist all-American designs in 1993, and it came as a surprise in       
1999 when it was announced that CKI was again up for sale. Planning to expand       
its business, the company had been approached by two luxury goods companies,         
LVMH and Pinault Printemps Redoute, to join Calvin Klein, but nothing resulted.     
Other potentials like Tommy Hilfiger Corp. and Italy's Holding di Partecipazioni     
proved to be similar disappointments because of CKI's steep price tag of             
supposedly $1 billion. After seven months and no potential buyer, Mr. Klein         
announced that his empire was not on the market anymore. The company would never     
manage to go public, which had supposedly been Mr. Klein's plan once.