I can’t wrap my head around Calvin Klein Collection

This brand’s menswear, more than any other, leaves me stumped. Observe the following.

Not bad, right? Certainly not the most earth-shattering designs on the planet, but very masculine, commercial, and clearly embrace the ethos of the brand—clean, modern American sportswear. In a fashion world filled with waifish boys at Dior, preening dandies at Lanvin, flaming homosexuals at DSquared2 and anachronistic meatheads at Dolce, surely there is a firm, profitable place for these clothes in the US. But therein lies the dilemma.

You cannot buy them.

Seriously. Try. I dare you. You cannot find Calvin Klein Collection for men in the State unless you live in Manhattan. This most American of American brands has only one freestanding store in the States (and, to my knowledge, only three in the world) and a tiny, tiny number of retailers. Saks, yes. Neiman Marcus, Barneys, Bloomingdales, Bergdorfs and Nordstrom, no. Wide-reaching online retailers like MrPorter.com? No. It is simply not possible. For God’s sake, Dries and Margiela are more readily available.

And why? Why to all of it. Why not have a presence in more stores? Brand recognition like Calvin Klein is priceless. The mass-market white label is sold coast to coast in practically every Macy’s, Bloomingdales and Lord & Taylor. Everyone knows the name. Millions of men have it imprinted on their waistbands. Who says some of these men who forked over $25 for a pair of briefs won’t pay $1,200 for a suit or $400 for a sweater from a brand they know and trust? There are countless men who want to wear designer goods that do not scream “fashion!” Yes, there is Zegna and a small handful of other brands, but none with the unique image of Calvin. In my opinion, the company is selling itself short. And it’s a shame, because Italo Zucchelli is a talented designer who has pushed the brand forward while honoring its heritage. I believe there is a huge market for these clothes, and am dumbfounded as to why so many of them never see the light of day apart from a catwalk. I refuse to believe it’s all an exercise in marketing to sell overhyped underwear.

Plus I wouldn’t mind buying a sweater or two. That is, of course, if I was able to.

TCB

 

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