Style Philosophy: Looking Back on the Legacy of Anne Klein
Sponsored by The Jones Group Inc.
Designer names are often so established in our consciousness that we can forget to step back and think about the heritage behind our favourite brands. It’s often true that most iconic labels began with the vision of a single designer. Anne Klein is just one such label with a proud provenance.
This year is the 45th anniversary of the Anne Klein brand and I find myself reflecting on the designer and the legacy, the true honour of being part of such a rich history, but also of such a vibrant and exciting brand. After all, when you buy one of these pieces, you’re not just buying an item of clothing, but a persevering symbol of one amazing woman’s vision!
Born Hannah Golofski in 1923, Anne Klein won a scholarship to study fashion at the famous Traphagen School of Fashion. A major breakthrough came in the 1950s, when she introduced the concept of American sportswear to the fashion industry. Her suits, separates and accessories revolutionized the way women shop and dress—a revolution that most of us today take for granted!
In 1968, the Anne Klein brand was formed with a mission to create elegant sportswear for the modern woman. Like any ardent entrepreneur, Anne Klein put her heart and soul into her business. She even incorporated personal details: For example, the lion that’s still a recognizable symbol of the brand today was her astrological sign, Leo.
We can also trace a lot of our cross-over casual sporty looks to Anne Klein’s original vision for her label. These effortless pieces were about comfort and style, but also about liberation from the constrictive designs of many of her predecessors. Really, it takes a woman to appreciate not just how clothes look but how they feel, move and wear throughout the day and Anne Klein had just such understanding and empathy for her customers.
In 1974, after Anne Klein lost her life to breast cancer, many prominent designers stepped in to continue her vision and design on behalf of the brand, including Donna Karan, who got her start as Anne Klein’s design assistant, and was named Head Designer following her death. Shortly after leaving the helm of the Anne Klein label, Donna Karan’s career catapulted from design assistant to fame.
As custodians of the brand today, we feel a deep connection and commitment to Anne Klein, to her innovative and original vision. After all, fashion is really about the connection we have with clothes and with the inspiring individuals behind those labels. It is an honour to carry the torch for such an inspiring brand and woman!
Carrie Kirkman has more than 25 years of experience in brand building for top fashion labels. Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieKirkman