Francisco Costa Exits Calvin Klein and Raf Simons May Be His Replacement

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Italo Zucchelli and Francisco Costa of Calvin Klein
Francisco Costa (left) and Italo Zucchelli (right) | Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

In news that broke late last night on Business of Fashion, Francisco Costa and co-Creative Director Italo Zucchelli announced their departure from Calvin Klein. The duo worked alongside each other to shape the brand’s creative vision for over a decade, but, as Calvin Klein chose to move forward with “a new brand direction”, Costa and Zucchelli stepped down. In the interim period, Calvin Klein will not be showing menswear in June or womenswear in September, although reports confirm that an in-house team will take over design practices and collections will still be shown behind closed doors to press and buyers. The announcement comes just months after Calvin Klein named a new president, Michelle Kessler-Sanders, who is likely responsible for the brand’s repositioning strategies.

Calvin Klein, one of America’s top sportswear brands, not only defined the popular minimal aesthetic of the 1990s, but also provoked strong reactions with titillating ad campaigns starring white-hot models and celebrities like Kate Moss, Justin Bieber, and Kendall Jenner. Although the brand ran into financial trouble in 1990, it has since strengthened its presence throughout the world by partnering with investment firm Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation (PVHC) in 2003. Growth in 2015 was healthy for Calvin Klein, with revenue for the last quarter of the year proving an increase of 21 percent. Whoever takes over at Calvin Klein will be comfortably situated at the helm of a thriving brand.

Although WWD reported in September 2015 that rumors regarding Calvin Klein’s courtship of Raf Simons were just that – rumors – the departure of Costa and Zucchelli has reignited debate over Simons’ potential future at the brand. Although Simons has been increasingly critical of the fashion industry since he left Dior in October of last year, his current design aesthetic fits in beautifully with Calvin Klein’s minimalist, sportswear codes. While the gossip mill continues to churn and the seat at the head of Calvin Klein remains vacant, we recommend familiarizing yourself with Simons’ work of late – just in case.

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