One of America's top fashion designers, Calvin Klein first made a name for himself by designing clean, uncomplicated sportswear. He kept his name popular with the public by creating sometimes shocking and always news-making advertising campaigns.
His early years
Calvin Richard Klein was born on November 19, 1942, in the Bronx, New York, where he spent all of his childhood. Klein was the second of three children born to Flo and Leo Stern. The family lived relatively comfortably. His grandmother was a seamstress and he acquired his love of sewing from her. His mother encouraged his love of art and fashion.
Klein attended the High School of Art and Design, which prepared students for
careers in advertising and drafting. As a youth, while others his age were playing sports, Klein was busy studying, sketching fashion designs, and sewing. Later he moved on to the esteemed Fashion Institute of Technology, graduating in 1962. He spent five years as an apprentice (a student working toward learning a skill) in a coat and suit house on Seventh Avenue in New York City, working long nights and weekends to perfect his own designs.
In 1968 Klein and close childhood friend Barry Schwartz created a Calvin Klein coat business. The first order was actually obtained by accident. A coat buyer from Bonwit Teller (a large New York City clothing store) got off on the wrong floor of a hotel and wandered into Klein's workroom. She placed an order for $50 thousand, which was a huge amount at that time. Encouraged by favorable reviews from the fashion press and the support of store executives, Klein expanded his line to include women's sportswear.