The House of Klein: Fashion, Controversy, and a Business Obsession

Overview

"From Mosholu Parkway to the high fashion salons of Paris and Milan, Lisa Marsh takes us on a Mach-1 ride through the world of Calvin Klein. A well-told tale of a boy from the Bronx who revolutionized fashion and made himself rich, yet somehow failed to make himself happy. The essential, and eternal, morality play of business."
–Christopher Byron, author, Martha Inc.

"This is more than the rags-to-riches story of a creative genius peddling perfume and denim. Marsh brilliantly traces how our culture evolved in the...

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The House of Klein: Fashion, Controversy, and a Business Obsession

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Overview

"From Mosholu Parkway to the high fashion salons of Paris and Milan, Lisa Marsh takes us on a Mach-1 ride through the world of Calvin Klein. A well-told tale of a boy from the Bronx who revolutionized fashion and made himself rich, yet somehow failed to make himself happy. The essential, and eternal, morality play of business."
–Christopher Byron, author, Martha Inc.

"This is more than the rags-to-riches story of a creative genius peddling perfume and denim. Marsh brilliantly traces how our culture evolved in the last part of the twentieth century, as Calvin Klein pushed us toward his minimalist aesthetic and challenged our puritanism with his sexy advertising."
–Richard Johnson, Editor, New York Post’s Page Six

"Lisa Marsh gives us an informed and never-before-revealed look at the inner business workings of one of fashion’s most compelling brands . . . Her blending of business with a backdrop of fashion, tells a fascinating story of an iconic American brand’s struggles and successes, culminating with what seems to be the beginning of a ‘new chapter.’ Even as an industry insider, I found the book to be fresh with a new point of view on one of the most talked about and written about designers in the business."
–Reed Krakoff, President/Executive Creative Director, Coach, Inc.

"More than any other designer, Calvin Klein has relied on advertising to create his company’s image. Author Lisa Marsh recognizes the mechanics behind the magic while telling Klein’s rags-to-riches story with style from beginning to end. It’s a compelling read and one you’ll learn from."
–Donny Deutsch, Chairman and CEO, Deutsch, Inc.

"Calvin Klein is not just a brilliant, creative designer and groundbreaking marketer . . . Calvin Klein is a company that has grown from wheeling a rack of coats from Seventh Avenue to Fifth Avenue to being the most recognized name in fashion around the world. Lisa Marsh takes you on that fascinating business trip."
–Fern Mallis, Executive Director, 7th on Sixth, Vice President, IMG

"Calvin Klein found an opening in men’s underwear and never looked back. Crack fashion scribe Lisa Marsh gets right there in the closet with him."
–Ben Widdicombe, columnist, "Chic Happens"

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Throughout American fashion designer Calvin Klein's 35-year career, he has been "dogged by rumors about his sexuality, illnesses, illicit drug use and shady business dealings," writes New York Post fashion reporter Marsh, who presumably had a front-row seat. Nevertheless, this unauthorized book, which the author refers to as a "business biography," offers little inside information about any of these issues as it tracks Klein and his partner Barry Schwartz's success in creating and transforming Calvin Klein Inc. from a manufacturing company to a design, licensing and marketing firm, which in its last years was averaging earnings of about $3 billion annually. (The Company was sold to Phillips-Van Heusen in early 2003.) Marsh presents her material about the company's evolution in chronological order, exploring how it either tapped into or redirected American fashion trends over the past 30 years-including, of course, the placement of logos on everything from T-shirts to underwear. But she explains little about the man behind the initials - and even less about the people he interacted with. All the major players, in fact, are desc ribed in tabloid terms. Klein and Schwartz, for example, are repeatedly described as either the "scrappy" or "street-savvy" "duo from the Bronx." Rapper Marky Mark, who was featured in Klein's print advertisements for underwear and jeans, is "the boyish man." And Klein foe Linda Wachner, former CEO of the Warnaco Group Inc. (which licensed Calvin Klein underwear) is described as "the ball-busting blonds." Business readers looking for a quick history of the American fashion scene since 1970 may find this book appealing. However, general readers looking for lifestyles of the rich and famous will be disappointed. (Aug.) (Publishers Weekly, July 21, 2003)

"...your going to love the House of Klein..." (Harpers & Queen, September 2003)

"...it captures beautifully the long hours of hard work and the joy of success..." (Management Today, September 2003)

"...this book offers an informed, insider's account of the defining moments of a fashion legends life..." (Luton News, 10 September 2003)

[the book] "reveals fashion's bottom line". (USA Today, September 29, 2003)

"...this investigation of the controversial New York designer focuses on the business dealings..." (Hot Stars, 11 October 2003)

Publishers Weekly
Throughout American fashion designer Calvin Klein's 35-year career, he has been "dogged by rumors about his sexuality, illnesses, illicit drug use and shady business dealings," writes New York Post fashion reporter Marsh, who presumably had a front-row seat. Nevertheless, this unauthorized book, which the author refers to as a "business biography," offers little inside information about any of these issues as it tracks Klein and his partner Barry Schwartz's success in creating and transforming Calvin Klein Inc. from a manufacturing company to a design, licensing and marketing firm, which in its last years was averaging earnings of about $3 billion annually. (The company was sold to Phillips-Van Heusen in early 2003.) Marsh presents her material about the company's evolution in chronological order, exploring how it either tapped into or redirected American fashion trends over the past 30 years-including, of course, the placement of logos on everything from T-shirts to underwear. But she explains little about the man behind the initials-and even less about the people he interacted with. All the major players, in fact, are described in tabloid terms. Klein and Schwartz, for example, are repeatedly described as either the "scrappy" or "street-savvy" "duo from the Bronx." Rapper Marky Mark, who was featured in Klein's print advertisements for underwear and jeans, is "the boyish man." And Klein foe Linda Wachner, former CEO of the Warnaco Group Inc. (which licensed Calvin Klein underwear) is described as "the ball-busting blonde." Business readers looking for a quick history of the American fashion scene since 1970 may find this book appealing. However, general readers looking for lifestyles of the rich and famous will be disappointed. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471455639
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 8/18/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

LISA MARSH has worked in the fashion industry for more than a decade. She began her career in journalism writing financial news stories for the fashion industry bible Women’s Wear Daily and its brother paper, DNR. She focused on the bottom line instead of the hemline while covering the fashion and retail beat for the New York Post’s business section and was a correspondent for Full Frontal Fashion Daily on MetroTV. She is also a regular contributor to the Australian newspaper. She lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements.

Prologue.

Chapter 1. From the Bronx.

Chapter 2. Working.

Chapter 3. Early Years and Jeans.

Chapter 4. Booming Boxers and Briefs.

Chapter 5. The Cost of Business.

Chapter 6. Obsession.

Chapter 7. Calvin's Kelly Girl.

Chapter 8. Unraveling.

Chapter 9. What is Calvin Klein?

Chapter 10. Fast, Furious and Forte.

Chapter 11. Controversial cK.

Chapter 12. The Trouble with Linda.

Chapter 13. On the Block.

Chapter 14. The War With Wachner.

Chapter 15. Streamlining for Success.

Chapter 16. Phillips-Van Who?

Chapter 17. Tomorrow.

Epilogue.

Notes.

Bibliography.

Index.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2011

    A Good Book

    The House of Klein by Lisa Marsh is a very good book if you are interested in fashion. I would like to get into the fashion industry and reading this book helped me learn a little more of what it takes. It tells how Calvin Klein started with nothing and built his name slowly to become one of the biggest names in the United States. The book showed how Calvin was one step ahead of the other designers and knew what his customers would want. It talked about how he used his advertising to catch customers' attention and how it was very controversial.
    I think that one of the biggest strengths in The House of Klein is that it moves fast, but still has plenty of detail. I like that the book explained many things in the business that caught my interest, but did not bore me with too much information. For example, when it was talking about his advertising it said why it was controversial but did not talk about what everyone had to say about it. The book covered many things and left it to me to research if I wanted to learn more about it.
    The one thing that was a little weak about this book was that Calvin would not be interviewed for it. When we are reading we do not get to know a lot of Calvin's personal thoughts and feelings, or about his personal views on the business. But, I also think that this is one of the book's strengths because Marsh had to do more research to find what Calvin had said about certain things and what others said about him. She also talked to those he had worked for and done business with.
    I enjoyed reading this book and I would recommend it to other people that enjoy reading, or those that would like to understand what the fashion industry is all about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2003

    Klein and American Culture

    What I liked most about this book was how the author linked moves made by Calvin Klein to cultural trends in America throughout the years. I had never before really thought about the change from 'Obsession,' with ads featuring mostly-nude models, to 'Eternity' with ads showing a happily-married couple frolicking on the beach with their children, really reflected underlying trends in American culture. A fascinating book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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