Why Raf Simons is Leaving Calvin Klein

Just two years after he started

Words by Nicole Thomsen
January 9th, 2019

Less than two years after he debuted his first collection for the brand in February 2017, and just one year after we received similarly surprising news from Céline in regards Phoebe Philo, Raf Simons has departed Calvin Klein and his role as chief creative officer.

The Belgian designer joined the brand after incredibly successful, and praised, stints at Jil Sander (2005-2012) and Christian Dior (2012-2015), bringing a new lease of life to the brand. However, despite his critically lauded collections, an unavoidable campaign starring the Kardashian-Jenner family that dominated Instagram for weeks, and countless celebrities on the best dressed list wearing bespoke Calvin Klein (think Saoirse Ronan at the Oscars), Simons’ high-fashion designs are said to have missed the mark commercially and did not convert into sales.

Last month, the company publicly stated, “Both parties have amicably decided to part ways after Calvin Klein Inc. decided on a new brand direction which differs from Simons’ creative vision.” This “new brand direction” is set to be more commercially driven than previous collections in an attempt to boost revenue in 2019.

 

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During his brief tenure, Simons not only reimagined the iconic American brand’s aesthetic, he also won both CFDA Menswear and Womenswear Designer of the Year awards for his Calvin Klein 205W39NYC collections in 2017 — the first designer to win the award in both categories in the same year since Calvin Klein himself in 1993.

Though Calvin Klein 205W39NYC was originally scheduled to show at New York Fashion Week in February, the company has since confirmed the luxury label will not stage a runway show next month given Simons’ exit which comes eight months before his contract was due to end — a note which belies their “amicable” parting.

As we wait to see what happens next for both the designer and the brand, revisit some of our favourite Raf Simons x Calvin Klein looks below.

photo: Calvin Klein
Calvin Klein 205W39NYC AW17
photo: Calvin Klein
Calvin Klein 205W39NYC SS18
photo: Calvin Klein
Calvin Klein 205W39NYC SS18
photo: Calvin Klein
Calvin Klein 205W39NYC AW18
photo: Calvin Klein
Calvin Klein 205W39NYC SS19