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NEW YORK — Calvin Klein and the company he founded, Calvin Klein Inc., have made a $2 million donation to the Fashion Institute of Technology here.
Klein, an alumnus of FIT (Class of 1963), made a $1 million donation through the Calvin Klein Family Foundation, which was matched by a $1 million donation by Calvin Klein Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of PVH Corp. The donation represents the largest gift that FIT has ever received from an alumnus. With a 10-year commitment, the funds will support the college’s annual spring runway show, which showcases the capstone designs of students who are about to graduate with a bachelor of fine arts degree in fashion design. The show provides FIT students with a chance to present their talents to industry professionals, established designers and the media. This year’s runway show will take place May 2 at FIT.
“The annual FIT fashion show is a culmination of the very best of the fashion design students’ accomplishments during their studies at FIT. This fund is dedicated to ensure that the FIT fashion show will continue to be the students’ showcase to our industry without compromise. I am very proud that Calvin Klein Inc. has joined my family foundation in this effort,” said Klein.
Joyce F. Brown, president of FIT, said, “We value the commitment Calvin has demonstrated to our fashion design students by taking on the role of classroom mentor and critic as they prepare their capstone collections. Now, thanks to this generous gift from Calvin and Calvin Klein Inc., FIT’s young designers will have a runway show that is completely worthy of their talents for years to come.”
Tom Murry, president and chief executive officer of Calvin Klein Inc., noted that his company has hired many FIT graduates for roles throughout the organization, as well as recruited students for its internship program. He said he was glad to further expand the company’s support of FIT through the fashion show. “Calvin continues to be the overriding inspiration for what we do, and we are proud to honor his design legacy in this way,” added Murry.
Each spring, as part of their graduation requirements, more than 150 fashion design majors entering their final semester produce a collection and showcase one of their garments. FIT continues to receive sponsorships from Cotton Incorporated, through an annual grant, as well as fund-raising across the campus to support the annual fashion show, “but this makes a huge difference,” said an FIT spokeswoman.
Joanne Arbuckle, dean of the School of Art & Design at FIT, told WWD that Klein has become very involved with FIT over the past three years.
“Calvin committed himself to be a critic three years ago, and he was a dream critic. He spent a tremendous amount of time with the students, and not only did he serve as a critic again, but he helped us to reach out to other critics such as Carolina Herrera and Norma Kamali,” she said. She explained that Klein “took a look at how they approached the fashion shows and said, ‘Do you have fit models?’ and we didn’t because there’s a budget, and he made that happen for us.”
Klein said FIT has changed significantly since he was a student there. “It’s first and foremost a fashion design school, but they go so far beyond that, with courses in advertising, graphic design, retailing, merchandising.…There’s a great library and costume design department,” he said. He said the school struggles to find money and when corporations contribute, the money gets divvied up into many places. He wanted to set up a fund earmarked exclusively for fashion shows.
Asked if he ever thought he’d be in a position to donate $1 million when he was a student at FIT, he said, “I never thought that. I’d be happy if I got a job.”