It is the first project from Jacob Jordan, an Apple and Thom Browne and Vuitton alum who joined the brand full-time in March of 2020 as global chief merchant and product strategist. When asked about the connection between the Preston project and his own role, Jordan said that the heritage of the brand “is still so important. And not just to us as a brand, but we feel like it’s still really important to the consumer. So how do we take that DNA and reimagine it? In the past, Calvin Klein was so associated with sensuality and the spirit of youth and like all of those things. So what does that mean now?”
Accordingly, rather than the clothes, the keystone of the project is a monumental campaign featuring a vibey video, and images by Renell Medrano. Like the brand’s original, much-lauded iconography, featuring Kate Moss and Marky Mark in their underwear, it is meticulously and almost mindblowingly casted, with Lil Uzi Vert freestyling, Nas peeling an orange, Kaia Gerber sitting in the bathroom in her underwear, plus others like GQ contributor Joe Holder, Preston himself, and skater Stevie Williams. Oh, and celebrity model Ashley Graham! It has that ranch house, shag carpet vibe, but with none of the creepy-perviness of Bruce Weber’s famous photos. (For that vibe, see ERL.) Simons did a bit of this too—remember when he put the Kardashians in the barn? But that was, well, a little too intellectual to be true CK. The genius of Calvin Klein advertisements was their utter, direct simplicity. Preston’s clothing is tailor-made to support the creation of this imagery. It’s clothing for an epic campaign.
Maybe we’re entering a new golden age of fashion advertising. Brands seem bullish about the possibilities of image. Last weekend, Balenciaga released a pre-fall collection with video that featured none of their clothing but instead a series of clips scientifically proven to make the viewer feel happy. It was totally, powerfully demented, toying with the global, sinister, vague vocabulary employed by nearly every tech company these days. More optimistic was the first campaign released by the Los Angeles brand Rhude, starring Future in the brand’s spiffy streetwear. Rhude has a billboard in LA, but otherwise they don’t have distribution plans for the images, which are something between a magazine editorial and a lookbook. The Future photo is an ad for ad’s sake.
In a way, Calvin Klein was the first brand for which the clothes were the least important part. This is increasingly the industry standard. Preston described going into the archives and finding not simply clothing but a chair, perfumes, a whole room of campaign imagery, and letters from fans to Calvin. “It was like a museum,” he said. And in that light, he has created the perfect sort of capsule collection for our moment: some highly sophisticated museum merch.