GQ’s Noah Johnson sat down with Raf Simons – the new chief creative officer of Calvin Klein – for what the publication describes as “an unusually raw and candid interview just days before his NYFW debut.” Here are a few of our favorite excerpts (the article can be found in its entirety here) …
What do you mean when you talk about the new youth of fashion? Do you mean young designers?
No. Spectators. And people that just bring out their opinion. People that have dialog with other people. I’m analyzing and analyzing and analyzing, trying to take it all in. Trying to figure out what it is that changed in fashion so much. And what changed in fashion so much is that it no longer belongs to a bourgeoisie small environment.
It isn’t just for the elite anymore.
I was actually someone who was very often saying that fashion keeps thinking that it can serve everybody, that it can be there for everybody, high fashion. I’m sorry, but high fashion was always for a small environment. High fashion by nature used to be extreme. Right now we define a lot of things as high fashion, but they’re not high fashion. They’re clothes. They’re clothes on the runway with a nice little twist of styling and coloration. Everybody thinks it’s high fashion. Bullshit. There is very little high fashion.
Now, the high fashion world used to have, for many decades, almost all through the 20th century, a bourgeoisie. But bourgeoisie is not necessarily a bad word. That’s not what I mean. Let’s say a high court audience. And it never changed and evolved. Because our world structure kept it like that. Up until young kids said, "We are going to look and consume and react and say something and have a dialog. Even if we are not in that show. We are not in the court. We are not in the castle." And that’s what’s happening now. And we designers, we are completely out of that whole thing. We have to think, how are we going to deal with it? Because the bourgeoisie, they really still think it’s all for them. They spit on the youth. Nobody dares to say it, but it’s like that. They spit on the youth. They don’t even realize that they are going to lose the game.
There are some designers now—and I’m thinking of Virgil Abloh at Off-White, Demna Gvalasia with Vetements, Gosha Rubchinskiy—who are connecting with the youth through fashion in a new way. Are there any young designers today that inspire or excite you?
Anyone in particular?
Not Off-White. He’s a sweet guy. I like him a lot actually. But I’m inspired by people who bring something that I think has not been seen, that is original. It’s not always about being new-new because who is new-new? And of course you have to have people who inspired you. I’m not just trying to be politically correct here—trying to be nice and sweet about people because that’s what we’re always supposed to do when these questions come up in interviews—but honestly, are you asking me if I think that these people are inspired by my brand?