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Raf Simons Exits Calvin Klein Amid Creative Differences

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Calvin Klein likely will end 2018 without a creative head.

The PVH Corp.-owned company confirmed Friday that Raf Simons, the award-winning Belgian designer and the brand’s first chief creative officer, is out effective immediately. Additionally, there will be no Calvin Klein show during the upcoming New York Fashion Week.

New York Times fashion director and critic Vanessa Friedman broke the news in a tweet Friday afternoon, followed by a report from Business of Fashion (BOF).

“Both parties have amicably decided to part ways after Calvin Klein Inc. decided on a new brand direction which differs from Simons’s creative vision,” the company said in a statement reported by BOF.

No successor has been named.

Simons’ departure comes eight months before the end of his two-year contract with the iconic American denim brand and notably just weeks after PVH missed its sales projections for Q3.

Chatter about a new creative direction for Calvin Klein bubbled up after PVH Corp. said it was “disappointed” in the Calvin Klein 205 W39 NYC business and poor sell-through on the Calvin Klein Jeans relaunch earlier this month.

“While many of the product categories performed well, we are disappointed by the lack of return on our investments in our Calvin Klein 205 W39 NYC halo business and believe that some of the Calvin Klein Jeans relaunched product was too elevated and did not sell through as well as we planned,” Emanuel Chirico, PVH Corp. chairman and CEO, stated. “As we move into 2019, we believe the consumer will increasingly feel more connected to the brand as we offer a more commercial product and marketing experience to capture the long-term opportunity for our Calvin Klein business.”

Simons joined Calvin Klein in 2016, following a three-year run as creative director for Dior.

At the time of his arrival, Calvin Klein, Inc. CEO Steve Shiffman said Simons as chief creative officer “signifies a momentous new chapter for Calvin Klein” and compared his creative vision to the brand’s founder and namesake, Calvin Klein.

As chief creative officer, Simons was charged with leading the creative strategy for the Calvin Klein brand globally, including Calvin Klein Collection, Calvin Klein Platinum, Calvin Klein, Calvin Klein Jeans, Calvin Klein Underwear and Calvin Klein Home brands. Simons also managed all aspects of design, global marketing and communications, and visual creative services.

Simons introduced Pop Art and Americana to Calvin Klein’s denim collections. Denim button-down shirts, jeans with tuxedo stripes and colorful back patches with minimal branding became de rigueur. The collections were lauded by the fashion circle. The Council of Fashion Designers of America named Simons women’s wear designer of the year in 2017 and 2018 and men’s wear designer of the year in 2017 for his work at Calvin Klein.

He was also named one of Rivet’s 50 Influential.

The company also rolled out buzz-worthy campaigns under his direction, including #MyCalvins which starred the famous faces from families like the Jacksons, Jenners and Kardashians.

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