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Calvin Klein's ad campaign with plus-size models is the brand's attempt at staying relevant following a disastrous year

The brand's popularity saw a decline after designer Raf Simons, the beloved Belgian artiste, was named chief creative officer and lead designer in 2016
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Indie rapper Chika grabbed eyeballs with her photoshoot for a massive billboard where she wore nothing but Calvin Klein underwear. The 22-year-old musician beamed at the camera as she confidently owned her plus-size body type in the eye-catching picture. The latest ad campaign stands in stark contrast to the brand's traditional image that featured skinny silhouettes and well-known faces like Kate Moss and Kendall Jenner.

With a high-profile feature in Time magazine, an InStyle interview and a string of posts on social media and digital platforms, the new ad campaign attracted much attention.

The sudden change in the brand's aesthetics seems to be an attempt to embrace the new trend of body positivity. The brand has had a terrible year so far, there was no collection from the brand at New York Fashion Week, where it once seemed to hold the fort.

The brand's declining fame came after its collaboration with designer Raf Simons, the beloved Belgian artiste, who was named chief creative officer and lead designer in 2016. Simons’ collections led to a downswing in the brand's popularity, especially after his futuristic shapes and electrifying graphics, many of which were licensed from Andy Warhol’s 'Death and Disaster' series.

Finally, when Simons left the label in December, parent company PVH tagged his two-year tenure a "fashion miss," and retail analysts estimated that the odd creations cost the label a whopping $240 million. While it seemed to be an ugly end for the brand, many fashion aficionados argue that it could also be a harbinger of a fresh start. 

“Letting those things go is actually quite savvy,” Tyler McCall to New York Post, who analyzes retail strategy as editor-in-chief of “At first, there was a real sense of loss. Calvin was so legendary! But the brand pivoted quickly into what works: the underwear in extended sizing, the nostalgia for the ’90s, the push for diverse bodies in casting.”

To reinvent its trendsetting strategies, Calvin Klein is catching up with Gen Z’s idea of inclusivity and individuality.

The company’s chief marketing officer, Marie Gulin-Merle, told The Post: “We believe the most compelling and engaging campaigns are those that embrace not just diversity of race, body type, sexual orientation or gender identity, but also the diversity of opinion and experience.”

The new ideology seems apt for the reason why the new “#CKPartners” include dozens of plus-size women and men, such as mental-health blogger Elena Sanchez, Sikh tailor Devkaran Singh Mattakul and disability advocate Kate Virginia posing in her wheelchair.

Even with efforts in the right direction, only time will tell if the fashion brand's action plan will stop the ship from sinking.