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The Actual Calvin Klein Isn't Impressed with Kendall Jenner's Calvin Klein Ads

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Kendall Jenner has walked every single major designer’s runway and fronted numerous ads, including a coveted campaign for Calvin Klein underwear. But in a new interview, Calvin Klein (the man) revealed if he were still at the helm of Calvin Klein (the brand) today, Jenner would have never been featured in his campaigns.

Kendall Jenner Calvin Klein
Courtesy Calvin Klein

During a talk at Savannah College of Art and Design with former CFDA president Fern Mallis, Klein commented on the industry as a whole — calling it “disappointing” and lending his two cents on the new young celebs starring in the ads for the brand he founded (which is now helmed by Francisco Costa).

When Mallis asked for his thoughts on Jenner’s involvement with the company he responded, “You know, I’m really not that familiar with it. I’m honestly not. I’m sure she’s a lovely young woman. It’s not the kind of thing I would have done, even today. Justin Bieber, yes.”

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However, considering he did put Marky Mark on the map with those tighty whities, it’s easy to see why he may be a fan of Bieber’s. “I think they’re very good,” he said in a comment about the singer’s “My Calvins” ads. “So many people wanted to be on a billboard or in an ad or in a commercial, and for sure Justin Bieber wanted to do it. I thought that was really good.”

While Bieber and Jenner may attract new millennial audience to the iconic American design house, Klein wouldn’t rely on social media to ensure a strong brand.

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“When [I say] I like Justin Bieber in the Calvin Klein Underwear [campaign], it’s because I like him — not because he’s got millions of followers,” he explained. “Now, models are paid for how many followers they have. They’re booked not because they represent the essence of the designer, which is what I tried to do — they’re booked because of how many followers they have online. I don’t think that, long-term, is going to work. I don’t think that’s a great formula for success for the product you’re trying to sell.”

Klein’s been removed from the design process for 14 years now (Phillips-Van Heusen corporation bought the brand in 2002) but does have some ideas on how social media could be an asset.

“If you take really exquisite photographs of the right people in the right clothes in the right location, and you put it online, that’s fine,” he said. “Just putting any old clothes on Kim Kardashian, long-term, isn’t going to do a thing.”

What is your reaction to Klein’s comments? Share with us in the comments below.

— Colleen Kratofil