The stars are aligning for fashion brands with ’90s-era denim archives such as PVH Corp.-owned Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. In a Q1 2021 earnings call on Wednesday, PVH Corp. CEO Stefan Larsson said that, despite pandemic-related supply chain issues, first quarter results exceeded expectations, with revenue for the first quarter of 2021 increasing 55 percent to $2.08 billion compared to $1.35 billion in the prior-year period.
“Consumers are evolving their casual and comfort focus to include more elements of self-expression through bolder colors, increasingly influenced by the ’90s pop culture,” he said. “This combination of stay-at-home comfort with the joy of being able to socialize again is reflected as consumers mix and match casual essential categories like underwear, lounge, active and day wear. And we see an increased interest in denim.”
The denim category experienced one of the fastest sell-outs within the Calvin Klein brand, which Larsson said demonstrates its “strength and potential as a true, multi-category lifestyle brand.”
The uptick in denim interest was partially connected to the brand’s recent collaboration with designer Heron Preston, which showcased men’s, women’s and unisex “baseline pieces” spanning underwear, T-shirts and core denim styles made of organic and recycled cotton. Working with the designer, combined with launching a campaign full of famous faces like models Ashley Graham and Kaia Gerber, rappers Nas and Lil Uzi Vert, skater Stevie Williams, helped the brand tap into a younger demographic. The collaboration also yielded some of the highest average unit retail (AUR) and average order retail the brand has ever seen.
Larsson noted that Calvin Klein will continue to launch creative collaborations and campaigns to “fuel brand heat and cultural relevance,” with a Pride capsule collection currently engaging customers across social, e-commerce and in stores.
Overall, Calvin Klein revenue was up 65 percent, with international up 91 percent and North America was up 27 percent.
Increased demand for denim was also a benefit for Tommy Hilfiger, which saw a 63 percent increase in overall revenue, due in part to a spring collaboration with Amsterdam-based streetwear brand Patta that Larsson said was “very well received.”
Launched in April, the unisex capsule collection centered around the Pan-African Flag and Black unity, swapping Tommy’s signature white, red and blue colors for the traditional Pan-African colors of deep red, black, green and yellow. The line included T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, jeans and outerwear, with tees featuring the message, “Great principles, great ideals know no nationality.”
Sustainability also played a role in denim’s success, as the brand recently debuted a limited-edition three-part collection of upcycled Tommy Hilfiger and Tommy Jeans products. Part of the Tommy for Life program, the Reloved collection featured previously owned products traded in by consumers. The Refreshed collection offers repaired garments from the store and e-commerce returns. In the Remixed collection, items damaged beyond repair are broken down to the fiber level and reimagined into new garments or used for insulation.
The brand also launched the third installment of Tommy’s Drop Shop co-designed with London-based creative, Stevie Gee, featuring limited-edition hoodies and T-shirts exclusively sold in Europe.
Looking ahead, Larsson expects PVH to continue to exceed pre-pandemic levels throughout the remainder of 2021, stating that it’s especially encouraged by its international businesses. Overall, revenues were above pre-pandemic levels in Asia, and similarly successful in Europe, due in part to its European wholesale channel, which includes sales to brick-and-mortar and pure-play digital partners.
On the other hand, the lack of tourism in North America negatively impacted PVH, as it accounted for 30 to 40 percent of pre-pandemic revenue.
For the full year, revenue is projected to grow approximately 24 percent to 26 percent and approximately 21 percent to 23 percent on a constant currency basis compared to 2020.