On Friday, Calvin Klein, Inc. and its first-ever chief creative officer, Raf Simons, announced that they would be parting ways — effective immediately. According to WWD, the parties arrived at the decision amicably, and that the brand has decided on a different direction, one that does not align with Simons's vision. For the past two years, the Belgian designer has created Americana ready-to-wear infused with his own artistic inspirations, inspired often by pop artist Andy Warhol and film. Several weeks ago, rumours of tension between Calvin Klein executives and Simons made headlines — including the announcement that the company would stop print advertisements.
Earlier in September, the company set out to pull back some of Simons's responsibilities and drew a contract that reflected a role with fewer input. WWD also reports that, last autumn, Klein decided that areas of the business, like visual merchandising, store concepts, public relations, e-commerce, and more would no longer report to Simons but to its chief marketing officer Marie Gulin-Merle instead. When Simons joined the label in August of 2016, he'd been given total control over all creative direction, and it's reported that he's spent significant time outside of the office following the proposed new contract.
Last month, parent company PVH Corporation's chairman and chief executive officer, Emanuel Chirico, didn't mince words when he revealed sales were not doing well under Simons' direction. "While many of the product categories performed well, we are disappointed by the lack of return on our investments in our Calvin Klein 205W39NYC halo business and believe that some of Calvin Klein Jeans’ relaunched product was too elevated and did not sell through as well as we planned," Chirico said, noting they'd invested between $60 and $70 million (£48 and £56 million) into the main line and hadn't seen any return. He didn't stop there: "From a product perspective, we went too far, too fast on both fashion and price. We are working on fixing this fashion miss, and we believe that our CK Jeans offering will be much more commercial and fashion-right beginning in 2019, especially for the fall 2019 season."
Simons' revamps to the brand include changing its ready-to-wear line to Calvin Klein 205W39NYC, completely overhauling the Calvin Klein Jeans imaging, hiring his longtime Simons collaborator, photographer Willy Vanderperre, to shoot its campaigns (featuring everyone from transgender models to the Kardashians), and more.
As a result of today's news, the brand will not show at New York Fashion Week in February for the fall 2019 season; there's no word yet on who will replace Simons.