Calvin Klein Names a New Designer and Plans Runway Return

Calvin Klein, a brand that recently made waves with an ad campaign featuring the actor Jeremy Allen White in nothing but his underwear, is getting a little more buttoned up. On Thursday, it announced it would restart its high-end Collection business under a new creative director, Veronica Leoni, along with a return to the runway — and, perhaps, to its former position as a tentpole of New York Fashion Week.

Ms. Leoni will be the first named designer Calvin Klein has had in five years and the first woman to lead the house. She is one of the few women to be appointed to the top of the creative side of a major brand in the last year, when most of the big jobs have been given to white men.

Her appointment reflects the fact that jeans and influencers may not, actually, be enough to sustain a global name even in the era of social media — that an actual design point of view may be necessary.

It is also a sign of the current upheaval in the fashion world, which has had a rash of designer appointments and reshuffling at brands like Valentino, Alexander McQueen and Moschino as the luxury business is increasingly challenged by the macro political and economic environment. Calvin Klein reported 2023 revenues of $3.9 billion, a growth of only 3 percent.

“We see this as an exciting opportunity to celebrate Calvin Klein’s return to its full expression as a fashion brand,” said Eva Serrano, the global brand president of Calvin Klein. “The market and the industry have changed, and the consumer is more eclectic. We wanted to respond to this cultural shift in a modern way.”

At Calvin Klein, Ms. Leoni, 41 and Italian, will be responsible for men’s and women’s apparel, underwear and accessories, and her top-line collection will inform the broader business and its presence on the red carpet, where aside from dressing Brittney Griner and her wife, Cherelle Griner, for the 2023 Met Gala, it has been largely absent. Just as it has been absent from the New York Fashion Week runway since 2018, when the last creative director, Raf Simons, was abruptly fired after less than two years.

SOURCE: New York Times

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