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Yesterday, Calvin Klein — the man, not the brand — spoke at the Savannah College of Art and Design as part of the school’s SCADstyle conference. His conversation with Fern Mallis centered on his decades-long career (he sold his namesake brand in 2002) and ever-present influence on the fashion industry as a whole — but, as tends to happen with most chats between friends, talk eventually turned to Justin Bieber, and Fashionista was there to capture it all.
So what does Klein think of the pop superstar’s pec-tacular #MyCalvins ads? "I think they’re very good," he said. How about Kendall Jenner’s? "You know, I’m really not that familiar with it," Klein said of her campaign. "I’m sure she’s a lovely young woman. It’s not the kind of thing I would have done, even today. Justin Bieber, yes." Wait, what?
Klein continued: "I like [Bieber’s campaign] because I like him — not because he’s got millions of followers. Now, [models] are booked not because they represent the essence of the designer. They’re booked because of how many followers they have online. I don’t think that, long-term, is going to work." And lest you think the elder Jenner sister is the only member of the Kardashian family with whom the iconic designer takes issue, guess again. "Just putting any old clothes on Kim Kardashian, long-term, isn’t going to do a thing," he said.
One person who’d probably disagree with this statement? Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing. According to The Wall Street Journal, Balmain posted sales of €30.4 million (about $34.3 million) in 2012. What's more, in the three years from 2010 to 2013, the brand’s revenue nearly doubled, rising from from €16.5 million in 2009; considering the label nearly went bankrupt in 2004, that's quite a turnaround. And if my Getty stalking is correct, Kim first wore Balmain in February 2009, when she paired a zebra-print jacket from the fashion house's fall 2008 collection with some very-2000s distressed denim pedal pushers:
Since then, Kim's gone on to wear dozens of other Balmain looks, and even star alongside her husband Kanye West in a series of ads for the label. Meanwhile, Rousteing recently scored a smash-hit H&M collaboration, for which Kendall Jenner served as a campaign star. Klein certainly has a right to his own opinion about America’s most famous family, but to claim that dressing them doesn’t have any impact on a label’s long-term sales? Numbers don't lie.