Fashion Is Hollywood, Redux

Did you hear? Raf Simons is the new Chief Creative Officer at Calvin Klein. That’s really interesting…maybe?

The news was announced with an unnecessarily lengthy posting on Calvin Klein’s Facebook, a press release designed for the people instead of the press.

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 strategy comes as part of a global evolution of the Calvin Klein brand, which began with the reacquisition of the Calvin Klein Jeans and Calvin Klein Underwear businesses in 2013. 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.

Cool? The public—Commenters.—left loving messages about the news of the former Dior Creative Director coming to the brand, debuting his collection in Fall 2017.

It’s interesting. This isn’t “good” though, contrary to what Vogue might be shoveling you: while Raf’s aesthetic is a fitting pairing, his being the new “face” of the brand is more of a marker of Fashion As Hollywood than Raf challenging himself. It’s a stunt move for both parties, akin to Hedi Slimane at YSL but on a more populist, common platform.

Think about this: of all the brands, Calvin Klein was designed to mirror Hollywood. The brand won’t be elevated to celebrity in fashion because of Raf: the brand itself is celebrity in fashion because it invented the fashion celebrity system that we have now, perfecting how brands are stars and stars are brands: you buy your Calvins because you want to be like those wearing Calvins. Calvin Klein doesn’t make clothing but it makes celebrities. Ask Brooke Shields. Ask Marky Mark.

Raf now being the head Calvin’s celebrity nature is less about design innovation than it is about acquiring top talent to the Klein talent agency. This is especially pronounced since the brand has been so in with top stars of the past year, from Bieber to Kendall to Bella to Cameron to Frank to Grace. This isn’t a brand starving for attention. Calvin Klein is just making its company into a giant ass billboard for all sorts of celebrity and, by buying Raf and his personal and professional brand, it now has affirmed its cred as being the leading fashion house for Hollywood and therefore society who lusts for Hollywood life. Hedi attempted this with YSL and rock and roll, keeping the dead name alive, but Raf will perfect the concept in his Calvins.

Moreover, this is maybe peak brand remixing, the definition of a mixing and matching of guest stars and producers. Bringing in Raf, having him come in and eventually leave with a mark on their company, will insert them into a greater landscape of fashionable remix culture. Like that insane and prophetic Vetements woman explained last month, an interview that is maybe the most important cultural recap of 2016, it’s all a remix. What is culture when it becomes a system of brands rebranding themselves with other brands?

Don’t believe this hype. Let go of Raf because he is now everyone’s. He is now going to be in your underwear drawer, in your pile of jeans, in your mall, in your outlet mall, on your billboards, on your television, on the Teen Choice Awards, on Pretty Little Liars: he will be everywhere. We are all now, more than ever, in Calvins.

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