Klein, born November 19, 1942, learned to love fashion from his mother. He often accompanied her when she was shopping in New York City for affordable clothes. From an early age he knew he wanted to be a fashion designer and learned to draw and sew on his own.
Before turning twenty, he graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. He married Jayne Center and began working as an apprentice drawing models of European coats for his employer Dan Millstein to copy. Klein, however, disdained the idea that American normative practice was to emulate European fashion and aspired to start his own business. He believed that original fashion ideas could come from the United States and he was just the innovator to make it happen. But fulfilling his dream seemed a long way off as he was having financial difficulties and was working part-time at his father's grocery store in order to earn some more money.
Business start up
Calvin Klein Ltd. was founded in 1968. Klein took a loan of $ 10,000 from a friend and used $ 2,000 of her own money to start it. Rather than strive for success, he stumbled upon him. Her first order came from a coat buyer for the Bonwit Teller department store who got off the elevator on the wrong floor and saw Klein's work. The buyer was impressed and ordered coats for $ 50,000. Additionally, an op-ed praising Klein's designs was written in Vogue. Klein's reputation quickly established.
Five years after founding Calvin Klein Ltd., Klein moved away from designing only coats and offered women a cheaper alternative to ostentatious European fashion with sportswear that could be identified as having 'the Calvin Klein look ”. Men were also drawn to Klein's comfortable outfits and masculine designs.
He was recognized for his accomplishments by receiving the Coty Prize for the Fashion Press in 1973, 1974 and 1975, and his wealth increased as the public continued to purchase his understated clothes. But success marred her home life, and Klein and Center divorced in 1974. Klein entered a period of celebration and irresponsibility. Now a prominent public figure, Klein could be found every night at Studio 54, but her carefree days of ease ended in 1978 when her daughter Marci was kidnapped. Marci returned home safe and sound, but the incident frightened Klein enough to turn away from the publicity he once so doggedly sought.
Building an empire
It was thanks to an exciting advertising campaign in 1980, featuring a 15-year-old Brook Shields in a pair of skin-tight jeans and the 'Nothing Comes Between Me and My Calvins' line, that spurred Calvin Klein Ltd. once again forward. This now highly emulated and sexually motivated advertising method was immediately condemned by feminists, calling it pornographic. However, through this experience, Klein learned that there is no such thing as bad press; in their first week, an amazing 200,000 pairs of Skinny Calvins were sold. In 1982, Klein was sued for an advertising campaign featuring men wearing only briefs bearing the Calvin Klein name. Although some magazines refused to print the ads, the underwear sold incredibly well.
Due to the onset of AIDS and the effect it had on promiscuity in the 1970s, the demand for sexy, tight jeans declined. The debt Klein had amassed in 1984 almost toppled his fashion empire. Using $ 80 million in rotten bonds, Klein refinanced the debt, leaving his business in great jeopardy.
Klein remarried in 1986. However, addicted to vodka and valium around this time, Klein was admitted to a rehabilitation center in the Caribbean. By the time he got out, bankruptcy was imminent, but David Geffen, a friend of Klein's day who was partying at Studio 54, helped him financially and gave him the chance to start over.
Saved from ruin, Klein immediately set to work producing a variety of products. The more affordable designer clothing brand CK and, like Richard Branson, the licensing of the Calvin Klein name for sunglasses and other fashion accessories brought young Klein back to the top.
Again, the controversy surrounding one of Klein's 1995 advertising campaigns prompted the FBI and the Justice Department to investigate Klein for violating child pornography laws. Klein shut down the campaign and ultimately the Justice Department ruling ruled in his favor.
With the CK perfume and his CK jeans a hit and once again the money pouring in, Klein is undoubtedly the image of a survivor who could have destroyed himself, but thanks to a multitude of good ideas coupled with good fortune and diligence, he became one. of the world's greatest fashion designers.