Browse all

What's going on between Calvin Klein and Pete Davidson

Last night, comedian SNL and Machine Gun Kelly appeared live on the brand's Instagram channel

What's going on between Calvin Klein and Pete Davidson Last night, comedian SNL and Machine Gun Kelly appeared live on the brand's Instagram channel

Last night, Calvin Klein's Instagram account changed his profile picture to an image of Pete Davidson that also appeared shortly after in a post, a mirror selfie, whose caption read: «I got Instagram». The takeover of Calvin Klein's profile by the Saturday Night Live comedian continued with an Instagram live during which Machine Gun Kelly also appeared alongside Davidson. During the live broadcast the two joked and basically spent time making the audience laugh without forgetting to show their branded outfits – underwear included. Last night's live show certainly represented the implementation of a new marketing strategy for Calvin Klein, which gradually left behind the traditional campaigns based on statuary models favoring instead a more attentive approach to the cultural pulse of society: rappers, LGBTQ activists, plus-size models and, now, Pete Davidson and Machine Gun Kelly – two celebrities who have three things in common: the first is that they are both on the crest of the wave thanks to their current girlfriends, Kim Kardashian and Megan Fox respectively; the second is their common bond with the Kardashian clan (Megan Fox is an unofficial/acquired member of the family, through her friendship with Kourtney); the third is that both have recently become the subject of wildly popular memes on the Internet, especially MGK whose "I am weed" joke uttered during his last interview with GQ has become a viral phenomenon.

Strategy to gain visibility, of course, but also and above all a new step in the redefinition of the identity of a brand that, through the succession of years and creative directors, has managed to maintain its role as a modern icon of Americana aesthetics and that is now trying to expand beyond its classic customer base, converting its immense popularity into fashion credibility also through collaborations like that,  for example, with Heron Preston which has had considerable success all over the world. Expansion that moves through an indirect ackowledgement of the role that the humor of memes and pop phenomena online plays in the construction of popularity: the two new ambassadors are stars not of primary magnitude but that anyone who is in the know knows. And above all they are post-aspirational stars who do not arouse admiration, desire or envy but who make you laugh: both, as we said, have been at the center of numerous online memes recently and are therefore relatable, familiar even if famous without necessarily being on another level with respect to the audience, while maintaining their coolness.

Although the marketing department of the brand is, as BoF writes, «in flux» with the recent release of the CMO and the executive vice-president, Calvin Klein has come to find himself in an enviable and transversal position compared to the rest of the fashion brands: its flagship products (underwear, jeans and basics such as t-shirts and sweatshirts) are immune to the passage of trends, economically democratic and therefore ubiquitous on the market also thanks to a long tradition of global campaigns that associate #MyCalvins with the main celebrities of the moment in a tradition started in the 90s with Kate Moss and Mark Whalberg; this tradition, which began with the heroin chic aesthetic and the photos of the 90s shows, has also fueled the credibility of the brand in terms of fashion, then greatly strengthened by the Calvin Klein 205W39NYC line designed by Raf Simons and still loved by collectors who sell it at high prices on the secondhand market. 

It is obvious that this type of positioning is achieved through a continuous transformationism and a dislocation of one's presence on different markets and through different audiences that could be summarized in the metric of cultural relevance. Calvin Klein continues to evolve and adapt over the years thanks to its continuous search for cultural relevance – an approach that translates very simply into always identifying a new face, a new ambassador who maintains the coolness of the brand. Today that new face is Pete Davidson, an unwitting icon of Millennial fashion that brings everyone together: from mental health and new masculinity activists, to fans of the new American post-hypebeast star system that mixes rappers, pop stars, cult actors such as Thimotée Chalamet and Jonah Hill but also fashion personalities united by a little dividistic and very natural approach to their celebrity status – which combines the lifestyle of the classic Hollywood star with the relaxed and slouchy, and therefore extremely relatable, aesthetic of the old classmate.