Kenneth Cole vs. Calvin Klein: Which Clothing Brand Wins Out?

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Difference between Kenneth Cole and Calvin Klein

Two of the most distinguished clothing brands in the world are Kenneth Cole and Calvin Klein. They are often compared against each other, although each does have its own merits. In order to help you decide which one to go for on your next shopping trip, we put together this helpful comparison of both brand's most salient features.

Kenneth Cole
Calvin Klein


Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. is a fashion house based in the United States. It was founded by Kenneth Cole in 1982.

Calvin Klein Inc. is a fashion brand that was founded by Calvin Klein in 1968. The company headquarters are located in Manhattan, and it is currently under the ownership of Phillips-Van Heusen. The brand is distinguished by its famous "cK" monogram.

Product Lines

At present, Kenneth Cole has no less than five clothing and accessories lines, each with different price ranges. The company also has a line exclusively dedicated to shoes. These lines are Kenneth Cole New York, Gentle Souls, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Kenneth Cole Unlisted, and Tribeca.

Calvin Klein for its part has an extensive line that reflects its many years in the business. Starting out on a shoestring budget of $10,000, the company came up with its first line of men's and women's coats after a chance encounter with a Bonwit Teller buyer who placed an order for $50,000 worth of merchandise. By 1969, Calvin Klein had been featured on the cover of Vogue magazine, and his company came out with sportswear, blazers and lingerie by 1971. Over the next decade, the company came out with a women's collection as well as accessories such as scarves, shoes, belts, fur coats, sunglasses, and bed sheets. It was also in the 1970s that the company came out with what is widely recognized as the first line of designer jeans. More recently, the company has released different perfume and cologne lines.

Financial Performance

Kenneth Cole has been on a bit of a downward slide since 2008, and the company’s lackluster performance has resulted in many brokerage house analysts giving Kenneth Cole lower stock ratings. While the company did manage to make a bit of profit by the 3rd quarter of 2009, the next few years were expected to be tough for Kenneth Cole Products Inc.

Calvin Klein was acquired by Phillips Van Heusen Corp.–who was previously in the business of making shirts–in December of 2002. The company was purchased for a reported sum of $400 million in cash, plus $30 million in stock. In addition, Phillips Van Heusen Corp. also had to pay Calvin Klein for licensing rights and royalties over the following 15 year period, an amount that was estimated to range from $200 to $300 million. As part of the terms of the sale, Calvin Klein himself would also receive “personal financial incentives” as determined by future sales of merchandise under his brand name.


Kenneth Cole

  • Founded by Kenneth Cole in 1982
  • Has five clothing and accessories lines and a line exclusively dedicated to shoes

Calvin Klein

  • Founded by Calvin Klein in 1968
  • Has an extensive line that reflects its many years in the business


Discuss It: comments 2

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