Kendall Jenner in Calvins: Jeans label looking for Kardashian cool

May 11, 2014

Kendall Jenner at the 2014 American Music Awards arrivals on November 23, 2014 in Las Angeles. Jenner is appearing in ads for the limit-edition #MyCalvins Denim Series collection.

Can Kendall Jenner wake the sleeping giant that is Calvin Klein Jeans?

The label hopes so.

Jenner, 19, appears in ads for the limited-edition #MyCalvins Denim Series collection, pouting in a cropped logo tee and fleece shorts, including on L.A.ís prime piece of fashion real estate, the billboard in front of the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard. The capsule collection of í90s-nostalgic high-waist jeans, sporty oversized tees, sweats and backpacks designed with Jennerís generation in mind is priced from $58 to $348 and is being sold exclusively at Opening Ceremony stores until mid-May, when it is scheduled to go wide on

Part of the pop culture juggernaut that is the Kardashians, Jenner lent her reality-to-runway star power to the brand at a launch party at the Chateau in late April. She was in no mood to talk about her father Bruce Jennerís TV tell-all with Diane Sawyer that was to air the next night. Sheís got her own life. As one of the most in-demand models of the moment, she has taken recent turns on the runway for Alexander Wang, Balmain and Chanel, is GQ magazineís May cover girl and a muse to designer Karl Lagerfeld.

"Modeling was always something I wanted to do," Jenner said. "When I was in middle school, me and my friends would go off and take photos. I even made my own modeling book. Itís the stupidest thing.

"My first memory of Calvin Klein was the Kate Moss, Mark Wahlberg ad. It was amazing," she said, referring to the sexy underwear spread from 1992 that launched Mossí career at age 17, before Jenner was even born. The 1981 Brooke Shields, "Nothing comes between me and my Calvins" denim ad came out before dad Bruce even met mom Kris.

Watching the Kardashian machine in motion during the party at the Chateau was something to behold. First into Bungalow 1 was Jenner, clad in a Band-Aid-sized, Band-Aid-colored top and miniskirt from the Calvin Klein pre-fall runway collection. Baby sister Kylie was next, wearing a Balmain jacket and hot pants. Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian followed, joining in the photo op. And at the last minute, as if by chance but obviously part of the carefully choreographed dance, mom Kris Jenner appeared, creating a Kardashian flashbulb-popping pileup.

Kendall Jenner was picked off to pose with Opening Ceremony boutique founders Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, who are alchemists of modern-day shopping, turning their powers to transform a brand from old to gold onto Calvin Klein Jeans, just as they have with countless other brands, including DKNY, Pendleton and Teva.

"My life in the past year has been so different from what it used to be," Jenner said of her fashion career, which does not include being followed by "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" cameras. She keeps the two separate.

Jennerís deal with Calvin Klein ó including the #MyCalvins social media campaign to appeal to her 24 million Instagram followers ó is part of a bigger strategy to bring cool back to the 47-year-old clothing company by tapping into fashionís current nostalgia for the 1990s and by the brandís heritage of controversial advertising. The effort kicked off earlier this year with Justin Bieber appearing in Calvin Klein Underwear ads, which became widely spoofed, just as Calvin Klein ads were in the 1980s and í90s.

"Weíre a brand that provokes conversation," said Melisa Goldie, chief marketing officer for Calvin Klein." And for us, one of the most important things is tapping into a younger audience."

Goldie hopes the capsule collection and Jennerís celebrity will be the start of a new page for Calvin Klein Jeans, a division of the Phillips Van Heusen-owned American fashion house that also has ready-to-wear collections for men and women, underwear, sportswear, hosiery, eyewear, fragrance and more.

"We were the first American designer jean, so thereís a huge heritage there, a huge legacy," said Goldie. "But itís also a lifestyle brand. Youíre going to see more of that from us ... being less category driven."

It will be interesting to see if the new Calvin Klein Jeans can elevate the Calvin Klein brand name as a whole. In a traditional luxury business model, the womenís runway collection, designed by Francisco Costa since 2003, would be the engine for the companyís creative growth. But it hasnít been, in large part because it is barely produced. Now Calvin Klein seems to be trying to reposition itself from the bottom up and hoping the magic will rub off on its myriad collections.

So on May 4 jeans star Jenner was planning to wear a custom Calvin Klein gown to the Met Gala in New York, known unofficially as the Oscars of fashion. She hadnít seen the gown yet, which is being designed around the galaís "China: Through the Looking Glass" theme, but in the lingo of her generation, she said she is sure itís going to be "amazing."



Associated Press