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 classic
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 archives
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 presentations
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 Edmonds.
Meanwhile, Preston reflects on the opportunity to collaborate as creative consultant for Calvin Klein
and its lasting impact on him as a creative.