Calvin Klein first learned fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology. He then learned the clothing business by spending five years as a designer in the New York garment industry.
Klein collaborated with his childhood friend, Barry Schwartz, to form Calvin Klein, Inc. on December 28, 1967. Schwartz provided the financing and received half of the business, while Klein contributed his creative skills. They opened a coat shop in Manhattan’s York Hotel.
They were soon asked to supply a line of clothing for department store Bonwit Teller.
His designer jeans line was launched who a Richard Avedon advertisement featuring a young Brooke Shields. His designs were modern, simple and sophisticated, combining comfort and practicality with elegance and sexiness.
In 1982, the Calvin Klein underwear division partnered with photographer Bruce Weber to created images of monumental men dressed only a pair of briefs emblazoned with the Calvin Klein label across the waistband.
During the 1990s Klein’s design concept explored images of androgyny and bisexuality, epitomized by the launch of cK One, his unisex designer fragrance.
In 2002, Calvin Klein, Inc. was sold to Van Heusen Corporation for over $430 million.
In 2004, Klein turned his attention to the outerwear market, an area that he had addressed only sporadically over his years in business. He signed a licensing with Marvin Richards to manufacture and distribute this line.