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Raf Simons at Calvin Klein



A favorite of the fashion world, known for his understated personal style, his affinity for the contemporary art world and his talent, Mr. Simons originally made his name with a men's line of the same name, but thanks to his notoriety he gained a greater recognition of the ability to brand new troubled brands Breathe life into life.

After the founder of the brand came and went twice, he joined Jil Sander, later moving to Christian Dior after storming John Galliano. After three years, he left Dior in 2015 and was frustrated that his creative oversight was limited to women's catwalk collections.

It was a situation that Mr. Simons ensured in Klein, where he was not responsible for all the brand's products categories, including runway lines, jeans, underwear and housewares, and advertising and store design. Previously, these responsibilities had been shared by a designer troika: Francisco Costa for women's clothing, Italo Zucchelli for men's clothing and Kevin Corrigan for jeans and underwear.

Although the brand was a commercial success, it was not a driver. In fact, the Runway collections were so small that they were seen as a marketing expense in the brand's footprint, according to Tom Murry, the former Chief Executive.

Mr. Simons should change all that.

When Steve Shiffman, chief executive of the brand, handed the keys to the kingdom of Klein, he followed the model popularized by Gucci. The reinvention of Gucci under Alessandro Michele, the creative director, was the biggest success story of the current fashion industry.

Also influential was Hedi Slimane, designer and former creative director of Yves Saint Laurent and current creative director of Celine. Mr. Slimane, who is known for keeping control of every aspect of a brand, to designing store decor, has boosted the sale of Saint Laurent, and currently all Celine are watching. Along with Mr. Michele, his success not only set trends on the runway, but also in the C-Suite, paving the way for the deal between Mr. Simons and Calvin Klein.


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