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Less than a year into his tenure at Calvin Klein, chief creative officer Raf Simons has been doing an admirable job living up to the brand’s iconic advertising history — minus the tendency to scandalize, plus a heavy dose of arty vibes. Remember that time his team dropped a set of underwear ads featuring the cast of Moonlight the day after the Oscars?
Today, Calvin Klein has a fresh campaign out focused on Solange Knowles and a set of musicians hand-picked by the singer herself, including Kelela, Dev Hynes, Caroline Polachek, and Adam Bainbridge. Photographed in white Calvin Klein underwear and denim-on-denim outfits, Solange and her friends look really, really great. I now plan on buying multiple pairs of the high-waisted logo underwear, thanks.
These images are the first part of Calvin Klein’s new “Our Family. #MYCALVINS” campaign, which will feature chosen families as well as biological ones. Here, it’s a family of musical collaborators. Usually I think it’s pointless to talk about brands’ creative concepts for advertisements, since the real objective is to sell product. But in this case, it’s kind of interesting simply because building a network of recurring characters is exactly what Raf Simons has been doing since he arrived at Calvin Klein.
He brought with him a family of collaborators (artist Sterling Ruby and photographer Willy Vanderperre) and has been hiring the same set of models over and over again. This repetition quickly cemented Simons’s vision for the new Calvin Klein, and it showed that the brand’s identity is not just about its head designer, but also the people he surrounds himself with. Creative hyperconnectivity is the hallmark of our time, after all, and the only thing that makes sense for a huge American brand led by a Belgian designer without mass name recognition.
So Simons is spinning out his Calvin Klein universe to include other creative families. Ones that can sell the hell out of a pair of white underwear, of course.