KENDALL JENNER FOR CALVIN KLEIN

KENDALL JENNER FOR CALVIN KLEIN

FROM V MAGAZINE ISSUE 95, SUMMER 2015

PHOTOGRAPHY STEVEN KLEIN
FASHION MATTHEW ELLENBERGER
TEXT PATRIK SANDBERG

WHAT COMES BETWEEN KENDALL JENNER AND HER CALVINS? A HASHTAG. AS THE FACE OF THE NEW #MYCALVINS DENIM SERIES, THE MILLENNIAL MUSE TAKES A CASUAL STRIDE TOWARD SUPERMODELDOM

“The first campaign that I recall was with Kate Moss and Marky Mark,” Kendall Jenner says of her introduction to the world of Calvin Klein. “Probably the most iconic jeans ad ever.” For those who lived through the ubiquity of that now-classic Herb Ritts moment, it may be surreal to comprehend that Jenner embodies a similar level of iconography for a new generation of American teenagers. Now the face of the new #mycalvins Denim Series, Kendall joins Justin Bieber in the post-recent pantheon of Calvin Klein billboard idols. 

But then again, from her first go-see at V in the summer of 2013—for which she posed with Visionaire 58 Spirit and set Instagram commenters into flights of hysteria—to her Alasdair McLellan–lensed #mycalvins advertisements alongside man-candy Simon Nessman, Kendall’s ascent in fashion has defied any and all assumptions. It’s something the young model attributes to shrewd calculation and blind luck in equal measure, especially having been known first and foremost for her family and their reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. “You have no idea how many doors closed on me and how many adults were either initially reluctant to take a chance working with me or who outright laughed at me behind my back,” Kendall recalls. “It was kind of hard because all I was doing was going on go-sees, trying my best to break into this business as a teenager. I am so grateful to Marc Jacobs, Riccardo Tisci, Karl Lagerfeld, and Katie Grand, who took a chance on me that first season and gave me an opportunity. My parents taught me that work ethic is one of the most important keys in life, and I believe it.” 

During the last month of Fall fashion shows, Kendall demonstrated a current strategy of discernment. While some models strutted for 60-plus shows, she walked for only 14, but they were all top houses: Fendi, Chanel, Balmain, Marc Jacobs, and Michael Kors, to name a handful. Her high-fashion pedigree combined with her stratospheric social following (21.3 million Instagram followers and climbing) makes her, for Calvin Klein, a match made in commercial heaven. Just over a year ago, when she Instagrammed a beaming selfie, exposing a logo waistband as part of the viral #mycalvins underwear movement, she received over a million likes. 

“I have searched the hashtag, for sure,” says the avid social media user. “Funnily enough, there are a lot of great workout tips there…and shirtless guys.”

“The logo-driven product was inspired by what we were already seeing from consumers on social media,” Calvin Klein Jeans global creative director Kevin Carrigan says of the limited range, which introduces another sartorial chapter to the #mycalvins narrative. For its first launch, the series is selling exclusively at Opening Ceremony. “Iconic graphics and logos will always be a part of Calvin Klein Jeans,” he says. “This series is a new take on what was previously seen on Kate Moss years ago. That imagery still resonates with a whole new generation of individualists, so it was great to have the new pieces photographed on Kendall. She looks great in the line,” he adds. “These are the perfect wardrobe essentials for a modern, young lifestyle like hers.”

And just like the classic white brief she first Instagrammed, the range is marketed as unisex. “I’ve always been into blurring gender lines, especially the girls borrowing from the boys,” Carrigan explains. “In this line of streetwear and denim pieces, a unisex approach felt right. These are American, sporty pieces like the tee, the sweatpant, and the hoodie that really are designed for all.”

“The best part about the collection is that it can be worn anywhere and anytime,” Kendall adds. “I can throw any of the denim on with heels to dress it up, or throw sneaks on with the crop-top hoodie and roll to the movies. The styling is so effortless. It’s really versatile.” Her only concern is some possible sibling rivalry when it comes to wearing the brand: “My little sister also wears Calvin, but I’m kind of claiming it as my own. Okay Kylie?”

For her first V editorial, Kendall met up with Steven Klein. “He is such an intensely talented person but he is cool and actually quite hilarious to work with,” she says. “We vibe very well. We have some sort of telepathic mojo. This shoot was particularly fun because he brought his three Great Danes. Everyone knows, but he has the most incredibly beautiful Great Danes. They’re huge and one of them even slightly bit my head, that’s how gigantic he was! My head’s okay though. All good! Any chance that I can work with animals, I’m in.”

In a way, Kendall’s journey from reality TV to the world of high fashion modeling may, for her generation, best represent what she associates most strongly with the brand: “The American Dream,” she says. “I feel like it’s such a staple. I can barely remember a time, or underwear in general, before Calvin Klein. They’re O.G. I feel honored to be linked to something with such great roots. I can only hope that I’m around as long as CK has been.” As for her McLellan campaign, she is keenly aware of the magnitude when it comes to taking her career to new highs. “This will be my first billboard on Sunset, which I’m ecstatic about,” she says. “It’s really humbling, and honestly, I am a pretty shy person, but being part of the Calvin campaign and seeing myself up there will be a dream come true. I might have to eat every night at the Chateau Marmont with that hanging over my shoulder. ‘Oh yeah, that little thing? I didn’t notice!’”   

The #mycalvins Denim Series is available at calvinklein.com and select retailers beginning May 15