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Raf Simons to Take Creative Reins at Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein confirmed months of speculation Tuesday when it announced that Raf Simons would take the creative reigns at the brand.

The company took to Twitter and Facebook to announce the news that the former Dior women’s designer has taken over as chief creative officer, effective immediately.

As part of the role, Simons will lead the creative strategy for the brand globally across all of the company’s divisions. He will also oversee all aspects of design, global marketing, communications and visual creative services.

“The appointment of Mr. Simons as chief creative officer marks the implementation of Calvin Klein’s new global creative strategy, announced in April 2016, to unify all Calvin Klein brands under one creative vision,” the company said on its Facebook page, adding that the strategy is part of the brand’s global evolution. “As Calvin Klein looks to grow the brand to $10 billion in global retail sales, this new leadership is intended to further strengthen the brand’s premium positioning worldwide and pave the way for future long-term global growth.”

Calvin Klein and his partner Barry K. Shwartz, sold the company to PVH in 2002 in a deal worth $430 million, and at the time PVH said it was buying the brand as a growth vehicle. Since then, the Calvin Klein’s divisions have, for the most part, operated separately. Marketing efforts have targeted younger consumers, tapping celebs like Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner as models, but even the added social media efforts haven’t helped the brand get out of its creative rut. And that’s what Simons is supposed to do.

“Not since Mr. Klein himself was at the company has it been led by one creative visionary, and I am confident that this decision will drive the Calvin Klein brand and have a significant impact on its future,” Calvin CEO Steve Shiffman said. “Raf’s exceptional contributions have shaped and modernized fashion as we see it today and, under his direction, Calvin Klein will further solidify its position as a leading global lifestyle brand.”

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For the first quarter of the year, PVH said revenue from the brand was up 13 percent to $739 million, fueled mostly by growth of more than 20 percent in the North America wholesale business, underwear particularly. Sales for 2015 totaled $8.2 billion.

Comparable store sales in the first quarter, however, were down 4 percent because of “continued weakness in traffic and consumer spending trends in Calvin Klein’s U.S. stores located in international tourist locations,” according to the company.

One Facebook commenter said following news of the executive shift, “Great move for Raf. I think he’s best suited to an overarching role to oversee his broad vision, rather than be involved with every little detail that designers usually have to deal with. Also, great move for CK. They’re revitalizing their brand and bringing it to the kids, even if they’re a little late to the party.”

Simons’ first collection for Calvin will debut for Fall 2017.