With its HQ in the US, Calvin Klein in one of only three brands in France’s Largest 50 luxury sellers that isn’t European. Yet it warrants a mention because this US behemoth’s biggest market lies in France. The brand is globally recognised – particularly for its signature monochromatic underwear – and this chic styling aesthetic has long proved attractive to style conscious French shoppers.
The brand grew its popularity in France during the 1980s and 1990s, a time when US fashion became a byword for style among that era’s youth market. While this has maintained Calvin Klein’s position in the French luxury apparel market for almost 30 years, it does mean that today’s youth market does not imbue the brand with the same fashion and cultural significance, so sales were starting to slow.
Web traffic, revenues and profits hit a nadir in 2020 and 2021, with the pandemic closing stores and online shoppers turning away from the brand. This was followed by something of a renaissance starting in 2022, as the now ‘retro chic’ nature of Calvin Klein has started to appeal to a whole new generation of younger shoppers.
Part of this has centred on how Calvin Klein’s new CMO Jonathan Bottomley, who took up the post in May 2022, has reinvented the brand’s reach by recruiting a range of new ambassadors for the brand. The global approach is using youth favourites Alexa Demie, Kid Cudi, Kendall Jenner and K-pop’s Jennie and Jungkook to model the latest ranges in a campaign shot by in-demand creators Inez & Vinoodh.
The company has sought to focus on underwear, jeans and basic apparel to create a range of essentials. This is hoped to see sales increase worldwide as shoppers look to the brand for luxury basics to complement their existing wardrobes.
The use of these social media savvy ambassadors is also likely to help tip sales once again towards the affluent youth market and continue to revive Calvin Klein’s fortunes in France and beyond.
This is an extract from our RetailX 2023 France Luxury Report, which you can download for more case studies here.