“People underestimate how hard it is to make a great sock.” So says Jacob Jordan, the Global Chief Merchant and Head of Product Strategy and New Product Ventures at Calvin Klein.
Jordan, who joined the American fashion brand in October last year, is one of a number of recent hires that Calvin Klein has made, including Jessica Lomax as Global Head of Design, and Willy Chavarria to head menswear design.
Heron Preston (pictured) makes an appearance in the campaign imagery for this collection by photographer Renell Medrano.
Preston, the designer behind the eponymous luxury streetwear brand, is a hot name to have tapped as creative consultant. Consider that he came up around the same time as Virgil Abloh and Matthew Williams – contemporaries of Preston’s who today head up menswear at Louis Vuitton and Givenchy respectively. There’s surely a bit of a generational change happening.
But this tie-up is a bit more evolved than splashy collaborations we’re used to seeing. Rather than big, highly visual cross-branded merchandise, Preston has honed in on answering, through clothing, a very simple question: what does essential mean today?
Overt branding was kept to a tasteful minimum. The visual cue that signals Heron Preston’s creative involvement: a line of orange that makes subtle appearances throughout the collection.
To find the answer, Preston looked naturally to the brand’s own archives. But not for slavish references, or to lift and simply revive past designs. What the designer found, instead, was a broad spirit of come-as-you-are acceptance that led the brand through its most iconic period in the 1990s.
Think of the revolutionary way Calvin Klein made branded designer underwear simultaneously highly desirable and accessible. Or the introduction of designer denim advertised through photos that featured the American girl-next-door (albeit unfairly gorgeous) looks of a young Brooke Shields. It was a preemptive way of positioning a brand as both a leader in style and fashion, while being massively popular and desirable.
With that and ‘essentials’ in mind, the categories that naturally surfaced were the, well, necessary. Underwear, denim, cotton basics and sweats – “no more, no less than what we truly need” said Preston during an exclusive virtual stream that FEMALE attended.
Jeans were approached with sustainability in mind, using a lighter rinse than usual, which reduces the amount of water used in the process, to maintain the raw denim finish.
So it’s the details, the small things that make up a garment. A lot of the cotton basics like underwear, tank tops and socks, for example, use a soft baby rib material that’s high on the comfort factor. T-shirts and hoodies are cut to end just so at the waist.
There is a mix of fabrics, too, so you have a choice of how a T-shirt sits on you. Should it drape fluidly across the body as a lightweight cotton (sold in a three-pack), or sit in a boxy way as a heavyweight cotton (sold individually)? With denim: what’s the ideal nothing pair of jeans? As in, it’s not a statement-making skinny or boot cut, it’s just a really good, neutral pair of jeans that you can slip into and not think about.
And perhaps not thinking too much about our clothes is a benefit. The most innocuous clothes are often the most well-designed – pieces that don’t get in the way of life, that you reach for every day. In other words: the essentials. “The worst thing you can do with something,” said Preston of clothes, “is never wear it.”
Below, a look at the pieces from Heron Preston for Calvin Klein, which is available now in-stores and online.