For decades (a shade over five to be precise), Calvin Klein has been a touchstone of Americana: its signature white briefs and relaxed denim synonymous with the easy, breezy, preppy style that is the unofficial uniform of the country.
As the brand embarks on a new chapter of its history – bidding the catwalk adieu, in favour of smaller, timeless drops – it’s hardly surprising to see the leviathan forging a new modernity; enlisting designer and artist Heron Preston as creative consultant to imagine what that looks like.
Starting from similarly humble beginnings as Mr Klein himself, Preston’s eponymous line has reinvented clas- sic workwear – or as the designer calls it, “cool blue-collar chic”. Through a shared, harmonious vision, the collaborative melding goes back-to-basics starting, naturally, with its best hits: underwear and t-shirts. It’s a bold decision, leaving nowhere to hide with simple classics, during a time where dressing and personal style feels more pertinent than ever.
Simple, perhaps, but with unexpected details that insist on deeper investigation. Preston’s workwear-inspired motifs appear consistently throughout his offerings – two collections to date – in denim jeans equipped with carpenter pockets, heavyweight hoodies, and classic wifebeaters. His touch appears subtly via stitching in his signature highlighter orange, or boldly colourblocked.
The latest collection, Heron Preston for Calvin Klein: Season 2, is an evolution, starting once again in the ar- chives and modernising elements, refining them for today’s wearer and the turbulent times we live in. Cozier knit sets and cleverly cut jackets and the heart the designer brings maintains. The kind of clothes you wear again and again, the scratches, scuffs, and holes making them more personal, until they eventually fall apart years down the line from being loved a bit too much.
Preston’s longstanding commitment to sustainable practices is clear too and carefully considered: raw denim is used to reduce water consumption, while recycled cotton, and plastic-free packaging ensure further global impacts are lessened. The new model itself is inherently beneficial too, eschewing trends and runway presen- tations in favour of well-made essentials that are minimal, while still standing on their own – certainly a leaf other brands could take out of their book.
The collaboration’s images too reflect the designer’s POV with ‘real’ people in mind, an eclectic mix of the new New York faces to illustrate that: Ashley Graham, Kerwin Frost, Sabrina Fuentes, Jordan Alexander, and his partner Sabrina Albarello among them. True to the DNA of both brand’s, the collections are made gender and size-inclusive – for real people, indeed. It’s a welcome change, one that will feel most impactful on giant billboards, a place where Calvin Klein collections feel right at home.
The same mantra permeates the images in the following pages, a celebration of family, whatever that concept means to the individuals casted by Jorge Wright and captured by photography’s name-to-know John Ed- monds. Meanwhile, Preston reflects on the opportunity to collaborate as creative consultant for Calvin Klein
its lasting impact on him as a creative.
Text by Dominic Cadogan
in conversation with Heron Preston
Re-edition - How does it feel to be designing for a brand with such an iconic history? How have you paid homage to Calvin Klein’s DNA while bringing your own aesthetic and vision to it via your collections so far?
Heron - For me when I was approaching the brand I went and read as many interviews as I could from Calvin (the man). Ultimately, I have been trying to keep true to the brand DNA, while bringing in my own obsession for details and fit. From hints of orange tack stitching on t-shirt cuffs and hoodie sleeves to the orange box logo on the back of each garment I wanted to bring in these hints of color and branding while keeping the designs clean.
Re-edition - How has your process for designing a collection – from starting point to finished product – changed from the process on your own label?
Heron - When I was first approached with the project, I was thinking of all these conceptual directions we could go. With my own brand, louder designs, prints, and bold colors is what we’re known for. But after spending more time in the CK archives, and understanding where Calvin as a brand was heading directionally, it made more sense to strip designs back and focus on creating strong essentials with modern fits. Ultimately it was about making a collection that everyone could wear right now.
Re-edition - Sustainability and sustainable processes are an integral part of your brand so it’s no surprise to see you doing the same at Calvin Klein. Why do you think it’s so important for brands of all sizes (but particularly larger ones) to implement more sustainable practices in what they do?
Heron - No matter the size of the company I think it’s necessary for all brands to do their part to make more sustainable design choices. It was easier to implement more sustainable elements into the collections because CK had already been heading in this direction. For example, our carpenter denim pants are blended with a fiber derived from recycled plastic bottles that is also water resistant. Our puffer jacket is also made with a recycled polyester blend, that’s warm and still cuts out the cold during winter months. We really focused on incorporating more sustainable fabric with functionality at the core.
Re-edition - What does collaboration mean to you as a creative? What have you learned about yourself and the way that you work from working with Calvin Klein?
Heron - It’s huge! Working with an iconic brand of Calvin’s size, no pressure, right? But being able to come together one as an individual, them as a storied brand, is a dream. I’m excited for people to wear the clothes and to see them out in the streets. Calvin Klein mean to you personally? How has it had an impact on your life as such an integral part of American culture? Calvin Klein is iconic! I grew up in the 90s, so CK was very much a part of my world and early exposure to fashion. Buying the briefs was almost like a coming of age for me. The brand has been a pillar for classic and contemporary styles that lots of people can approach. I think American culture has inspired global contempo- rary culture, visually and e in a way that a lot of other brands have not achieved.