When thinking about entrepreneurs, not many take the time to consider fashion designers since everyone believe their role is to design clothes, not be entrepreneurs who know what they are doing in terms of businesses and money.
However, you will be surprised by how much fashion designers have accomplished over the years. If you don’t believe us, just look at Calvin Klein through this article and the many luxury fashion brands we have covered in our blog.
You will be astonished by their success, intellect, and results as entrepreneurs more than incredible designers.
In the case of Calvin Klein, we’re confident you are more than just familiar with this name, considering it is one of the best-known brands worldwide, but who you might not know so well is the founder himself.
After all, most people focus on the brand’s name but don’t remember that it was created by a genius who gave the name for it.
Thus, we decided to pay the respects he deserves and make sure to focus on this incredible designer’s life.
Childhood & Early Years: Calvin Klein’s Life
Where should we start? During his early years, without a doubt.
Calvin Richard Klein was born on November 19, 1942, in Bronx, New York City. He is the son of Flore Klein and Leo Klein.
Leo immigrated to New York from Hungary, but Calvin’s mother was born in the United States to immigrants from Galicia and Buchenland, the Austrian Empire, now known as Ukraine.
While his father owned a Harlem grocery store, his mother, a homemaker, encouraged him to love fashion and art. With the support of Klein’s grandmother, a seamstress, he had a mentor who would teach him everything he needed from a very young age.
He eagerly visited her tailoring shop and learned how to sew from her. While his peers were engaged in sports, Klein was studying fashion design and sketching.
After attending the High School of Art and Design, he enrolled at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. He received an honorary doctorate in 2003.
Klein was one of many design leaders who were raised in the Bronx Jewish immigrant community. Others include Ralph Lauren and Robert Denning, but this is going a bit out of topic.
Calvin’s childhood and teenage years aren’t too well-known besides his assistance to the high school and his grandmother’s influence and mother’s encouragement for design and art.
However, we have more details when it comes to his early years as a professional and funding, what made him rich.
Career and Personal Life: The Start of Calvin Klein, Inc.
In 1962, he began his professional career as an apprentice for Dan Millstein, a suitmaker. There, he spent five years designing for various shops in New York City.
However, he and Barry K. Schwartz, his childhood friend, founded their first company, later becoming Calvin Klein, Inc.
Klein was responsible for the artistic vision and design, while Schwartz managed the business administrative and financial aspects.
The label was well-known for its women’s clothing, including suits, coats, and dresses, as well as sportswear. After a merchandiser visited the showroom, Schwartz and Klein rented an empty showroom. They were impressed with their line and signed a deal at Bonwit Teller’s department store.
However, it wasn’t until Calvin met Baron de Gunzburg through his Bonwit Teller deal that his success skyrocketed as he accepted him as his protege and helped him rise in the New York fashion elite to the point of having his work featured in Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue.
Klein launched his denim brand, Klein, in 1974. He was able to compete with major competitors like Gloria Vanderbilt, thanks to his innovative designs.
Then, Klein began underwear design in 1982. He later expanded to swimwear, eyewear, and other accessories, and the first launched Obsession and Eternity fragrances in the late 1980s.
However, not everything is pink.
Calvin Klein, Inc. was in serious financial trouble during the ’90s, but David Geffen, a friend and record producer, saved them.
Later in 2003, Klein and Schwartz sold their company to Phillips-Van Heusen for $400 million, $30 million in stock, and $300 million in potential upside royalties and bonuses.
Klein’s success was based on his innovative, provocative marketing.
By creating controversy, he kept the media talking and Klein’s name in the news as a result.
He was also the first designer of women’s underwear that looked similar to men’s boxer briefs.
One of the key points for Calvin Klein to be so successful lied in the ads starring Brooke Shields, who declared “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins” during the billboards and television ads, which was very seductive and had a different approach.
These ads were highly talked about, and television stations removed several Calvin Klein ads because of speculations over the age of some models.
Klein’s major fragrances, Obsession and Eternity, were huge hits, partly due to the sexually suggestive advertisements.
His fragrances CK One and CK Be advertising continued to challenge the public. Some ads featured teens participating in what was viewed as idolizing a drug culture.
The fashion industry, or more like the brand itself, was criticized for glorifying addiction by President Bill Clinton, and First Lady Hillary Clinton protested the explicit images.
Anti-porn groups also criticized Klein’s provocative advertisements, but he said that the ads were a departure from fake airbrushed images that weren’t connected to today’s reality.
However, he admitted in 2013 that he had gone too far with some of the more obvious campaigns.
Many critics disagree with what people were arguing and complaining about.
Instead, they agree that his ads are evocative and portray a classic, calm sensuality.
That being said, Klein is also responsible for introducing male underwear models into mainstream culture by featuring Mark Wahlberg, then rapper and actor, in his underwear ads.
Many famous actors, actors, athletes, and performers have been part of his many illustrious campaigns over the years.
Finally, during his career, Klein was the recipient of three Coty Awards and the Council of Fashion Designers of America Award for 1982, 1983, 1986, and 1987.
Where Does He Stand? Millionaire or Billionaire?
Well, as much as we would like to say that Calvin’s net worth or fortune comes from many other investments like some entrepreneurs we know, everything is thanks to his fashion house.
Besides awakening controversy and leading his brand to be a worldwide known and famous one, he has made a lot of money with it thanks to the designs and how he has contributed to making women’s clothes evolve and include more men in the fashion industry.
Although he is no longer being at the creative helm nor directly involved with the company, Calvin has made sure to continue building his fortune thanks to the deal when selling it.
But if we also have to point out something: You could imagine that he continues to have some stakes that make him more money.
To this date, he is known as one of the richest fashion designers in the world, with a net worth of around $700 million, though specific statistics and reports haven’t been updated as of this date in 2021.
When compared to entrepreneurs and designers like Giorgio Armani, you can notice a huge difference in how massive the empire is.
However, in the case of Armani, he has incurred in other business ventures and expanded the brand much more in terms of marketing and other niches than just fashion.
Thus, having Klein with a net worth set at $700 million is quite the achievement considering he isn’t at the head of the fashion empire any longer.
Now, besides the set net worth in cash, he also has real estate properties acquired for over $3 million and even sold an 8.5-acre property for $85 million recently in July 2021.
With other properties like his mansion in the hills above Los Angeles and another in New York City’s West Village neighborhood, there is a lot of money waiting in this place.
Charity & Social Impact: Is Calvin Klein a Philanthropist?
Most people want to know about celebrities and entrepreneurs whether they contribute with money and other aspects or not when it comes to charities and social causes.
In some cases, you will see some people aren’t too adamant about putting their grain of rice to contribute. However, this isn’t the case with Calvin.
Although he is a very private celebrity and designer, everyone knows about his past struggles with drugs and alcohol, which led him, later on, to contribute to rehabilitation centers and several organizations to support those in need of help.
Calvin Klein Inc. also supported several charities soon after it was founded, including the onePULSE Foundation, one of the most recent additions despite the company not being under its founder yet. He was involved in the decision.
He has also made donations to the Fashion Institute of Technology, including a donation worth $2 million back in 2012.
According to some news, he has also contributed with many more millions to the institution over the years, including from his personal net worth and the company he founded.
Other social impact activities are related to the sensual ads he has encouraged over the years and has opened many doors for people to feel free about their bodies and sexualities.
Of course, his brand brought innovation and new trends to the fashion world, and if you are curious about knowing more about it, you can just visit its website.
There, you will find a welcome discount, be able to explore customer service, sign for Calvin Klein’s newsletter with your email address, have a look at the purchase terms, and handle your first purchase.
And, of course, get to see all the merchandise and even information about the brand’s social impact, including its founder and other external contributions.
A Person to Look Up to
If you are trying to know more about Klein’s life and success to find a role model and person to look up to based on your dreams and goals, he is pretty much a good choice leaving aside his worst moments, which every human being has.
For us, fashion designers are a great inspiration for anyone that wants to try their best in this industry yet doesn’t feel confident enough to do so due to the competitors or other factors involving how the world is changing with new trends.
However, we want to encourage you to follow your dreams and find new opportunities to make money in the process. Don’t be afraid of trying something that has been proven to be a great way to reach success.
Now, design isn’t the only world where you can enter and make money, so if you give it a try and fail or want to do something else to finance your main goal, we would recommend giving online options a try, including renting websites.
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