Calvin Klein suit airs fashion industry’s dirty laundry

NEW YORK: PR critics have given Calvin Klein a thumbs down for his decision to reveal that the company’s products were being sold in discount stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club without his authorization - thereby compromising the notion of CK as an exclusive brand.

NEW YORK: PR critics have given Calvin Klein a thumbs down for his decision to reveal that the company’s products were being sold in discount stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club without his authorization - thereby compromising the notion of CK as an exclusive brand.

NEW YORK: PR critics have given Calvin Klein a thumbs down for his

decision to reveal that the company’s products were being sold in

discount stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club without his authorization

- thereby compromising the notion of CK as an exclusive brand.



Klein has been fighting to maintain the integrity of his brand both in

the courts and in the press. After filing suit last month against

Warnaco Group, the manufacturer of CK jeans and underwear, Klein made

public his claim that many products Warnaco produced in the last three

years did not meet CK specifications.



Klein argued that the lawsuit will rectify the situation and revive the

quality of the products. But critics have suggested that Klein’s candor

undermined the perception of the CK brand.



’Not only has the company shot itself in the foot, it’s probably shot

itself in both feet,’ said Larry Smith, president of the Institute for

Crisis Management. ’Some customers will have second thoughts.’



Added Corporate Branding CEO James Gregory, ’No one is under the

illusion that Calvin Klein is in the back sewing his own products, but

slashing prices does nothing for a brand. Demanding control back is the

right step for Klein. Then he can focus on rebuilding the brand.’



The lawsuit, the first of its kind in the fashion industry, has already

revealed one of the industry’s secrets: that name-brand clothes are

shopped out to mass-market manufacturers. While brands like Gucci and

Giorgio Armani have recently bought back licenses to maintain control

over production and sales outlets, the fashion world has stayed out of

the courts in large part to avoid the potential publicity backlash.



’There is a lot of potential for aftershocks, for the entire industry

and for Klein,’ said Smith. ’Any time a story comes up on the quality of

a signature brand, it will revisit Calvin Klein.’



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