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Calvin Klein Biography
From the High School of Industrial Art, Klein won a spot in the New York’s renowned Fashion Institute of Technology, where, at the age of 20 he was one of the youngest graduates in the school’s history. After graduating, he took an apprenticeship with a cloak and suit manufacturer, and spent another five years designing clothes for other New York shops.
As much as Klein was happy to have the paid work, he knew that he did not want to spend the rest of his life designing clothes under the names of others. And so, in 1968, with the financial backing of a childhood friend, Klein launched his own clothing company. Calvin Klein Ltd. was initially just a coat shop, based in New York City’s York Hotel. After a buyer from the exclusive department store Bonwit Teller got off on the wrong floor of the hotel and noticed Klein’s designs, he immediately placed a $50,000 order.
That order would forever change the course of the Calvin Klein biography. From there, the American designer expanded his line to include sportswear, classic blazers and lingerie. With his designs in the minimalist tradition, Klein became the toast of New York. For three consecutive years, he was even the youngest designer in history to have ever won the prestigious Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award, which is similar to the Oscars of the fashion world.
By 1977, Calvin Klein Ltd. was earning more than $30 million in annual revenues. The company’s product lines had expanded even further to include scarves, shoes, belts, furs, sunglasses, and sheets. Just four years later, Fortune magazine listed Klein’s annual income at $8.5 million, and the impressive growth continued throughout the 1980s.
However, nothing is rarely as good as it seems. Financial problems, low sales, and strained relationships with licensees, pushed him to the brink of bankruptcy in 1992. Although the company managed to rebound, thanks in large part to the success of its underwear and fragrance lines, Klein announced in 1999 that the business was in fact up for sale. Three years later, the company was bought out by shirt maker Phillips Van Heusen for $400 million in cash, $30 million in stock and licensing rights over the next 15 years.
Today, the Calvin Klein biography stands out as a story of not only inspired talent and determined passion, but as that of a young boy who could not help but to follow his dreams.
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