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Anne Klein (August 3, 1923 – March 19, 1974) was an American fashion designer who founded her own women’s sportswear and apparel label.
Anne Klein was born as Hannah Golofski in a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York on August 3, 1923. She studied art at Girls’ Commercial High School in Brooklyn and later went to the Traphagen School of Design in New York from 1937 to 1938 to study fashion. She married her first husband, Ben Klein, in the early 1940s, and together they founded Junior Sophisticates – a clothing company which completely transformed the clothing styles, choices, and attitudes of young American women. The company revolutionized the junior market, doing away with the traditional “little-girl” clothing that featured button-and-bow detailing, and addressing the primary need of this important group—the desire to look more stylish, more polished, and, above all, more grown up.
Beginning as a sketcher she later rose to prominence as a designer of women’s sportswear and apparel, establishing Anne Klein and Co. with fashion guru Gunther Oppenheim in 1968. Klein died of breast cancer March 19, 1974 at age 50.
The Anne Klein label was established in 1968 as a partnership with famed fashion guru Gunther Oppenheim. In 1971, Klein met Tomio Taki from Takihyo who approached her to enter a joint-venture to manufacture in the Far-East with materials bought in Europe for sale in the US and Japan. The joint-venture never materialized as the margins were too thin; however, Klein approached Taki to partner in the company and by 1973 Takihyo owned 25% of the Anne Klein Company.
In 1974 Anne Klein died, leaving her equity position in the hands of her second husband, Chip Rubenstein. Oppenheim wanted to sell his shares in the company, and Taki bought Oppenheim out despite the death of the company’s driving force. There was great contention among Taki, Oppenheim, and Rubenstein regarding Anne’s successor. Taki wanted to elevate the assistant designer, but Oppenheim and Rubenstein wanted a name-brand designer to take the helm. At the time, Taki had the largest individual stake in the company so his equity position allowed him to promote the assistant Donna Karan, who a decade later became a household name. In a matter of a few years after Anne’s death with Donna Karan leading the design-room, Takihyo purchased all of Rubenstein’s position.
The success of the Anne Klein brand led to the development of the first bridge-line in American fashion, Anne Klein II. A line with a price point just under designer-label fashion yet still much better quality than better, moderate, and budget lines while maintaining a similar look. The bridge-line was a new system Klein developed with Taki before her death. Depending on the garment, certain fabrics or manufacturing methods, or both in some cases, would change to offer a lower price point for consumers. For example, a skirt may be made from 8 leaves of fabric rather than 2. The leaves could be used modularly as well to increase the number of garments made from a given amount of material. Jackets would be cut a little shorter in the back. While consumers may not notice a big difference in the garment, the savings from three inches increased productivity at the manufacturing level.
Anne Klein then Anne Klein II were continued after her death by Donna Karan and Louis Dell’Ollio as head designers until 1985. Taki and his partner Frank Mori at Takihyo then fired Donna on a Friday to hire her the next Monday to begin a new partnership that became the highly successful Donna Karan New York line followed by its diffusion line, DKNY.
In 2001, fashion designer Charles Nolan was hired to revive Anne Klein’s image as a hipper, more fashion-forward brand.
Anne Klein and Co is currently owned by Jones Apparel Group, who acquired then-parent company Kasper it in 2003.
The Anne Klein brand of watches are made by Sutton Time.