24th January 2015
Location LOCATION: Shanghai

Josh Goot Top / CH by Carolina Herrera Pants / Calvin Klein Bracelets and Ring

A few months ago I made my way from London to Shanghai to work with Calvin Klein as one of their guest judges for their Watch + Jewelry Design Contest. This was a global design initiative that awarded one winner from each design school – The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York, Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan and Donghua University in Shanghai – the prize of having their designs created and exhibited by Calvin Klein at Baselworld in 2015.

You’ll recall this contest started all the way back in March when we flew to Switzerland for the official announcement at Baselworld, and then six months later the moment had finally arrived to sit down and asses each students entry. The jury consisted of Ulrich Grimm, Creative Director of Calvin Klein’s Men’s and Women’s Shoes and Accessories, Mauro Stefanizzi, Head of Product at Calvin Klein Watches + Jewelry, and Stephanie Zhuge, Fashion Director at Elle China. We had 20 design finalists, which made the task of awarding first, second and third prizes painstakingly difficult as each student clearly understood the design brief and had even gone above and beyond by submitting 3D vector graphics of their designs digitally shown on models. Talk about next level and over-delivering – it was impressive to say the least.

This was actually my second time at being a guest judge for a design award. Earlier that year I took part as a guest judge for the BT Emerging Fashion Designer Award for the Australian Fashion Chamber, which also had Vogue Australia Editor-in-Chief Edwina McCann and Australian designers such as Camilla Freeman-Topper from Camilla and Marc amongst the few on the jury panel. I never actually wrote about my participation in the jury (Michael Lo Sordo took out the prestigious award) but the process was vastly different to Calvin Klein’s and I found both experiences exhilarating and incredibly insightful. The BT Emerging Designer Award was based on design, quality, business vision, marketing and social media presence, whilst the Calvin Klein Design Contest was purely focused on the design, quality and the interpretation of the Calvin Klein aesthetic.

Two hours passed but working with a tight deadline meant we couldn’t leave the room without making a decision on the winner. We were torn. There were two finalists who had the team divided straight down the middle; one reflected the Calvin Klein aesthetic effortlessly and was stunning, commercial, and sellable, the other was more obscure and had Mauro literally scratching his head questioning “It’s definitely unique but I need to make sure we can realistically have this produced in these materials with these finishes”. This was a contest about innovation, so if this design had the Head of CK’s Watch + Jewelry Products questioning how on earth they would make it, then we had a clear winner.

Congratulations to Zhang Yi, Chan Da and Lui Ke for taking out the first, second and third prizes! It was a privilege to take part in this experience and I can’t wait to see their designs come to life at Baselworld this year, as well as seeing others brands take inspiration from Calvin Klein and perhaps start their own design initiatives. I’ll give my time of day to anyone who is willing to take risks and support new young talent.

Photographer: Luke Shadbolt & event imagery courtesy of Calvin Klein