Calvin Klein ck2: The Millennial answer to CK One

Calvin Klein ck2: The Millennial answer to CK One

Calvin Klein ck2 picks up the androgynous, rebellious mantle of CK One—and moves forward. The new eau is the Millennial’s take on youth, freedom and gender fluidity.

“One for all” was the slogan muttered by a young Kate Moss in the 1994 debut of Calvin Klein’s CK One. The original in gender-free fragrances, CK One was intentionally titled for its fluid use and unearthed an aggressive celebration of androgyny in the world of  ’90s scents. Now, over 20 years later, Calvin Klein ck2 has been released, a similarly non-gender-specific scent, with an ad campaign set to tackle the young person’s crusade, not unlike that of its predecessor. Amidst a second coming of gender-fluid branding, ck2 is perfectly timed with the ethos of its audience, a wide-ranging set of playful Millennials ready to recreate gender expression anew.

The CK campaigns

Calvin Klein ck2 is clearly part of the CK One family as witnessed by the tone of its campaign and the spirit of the fragrance itself. In fact, the two work in contrast to one another, like different sides of the same coin. Where CK One was the first of its kind and advertised itself with a punk-ish, anti-establishment vibe shot in black and white with almost identically dressed young men and women head-banging and arguing, ck2’s approach is softer, pitched through sultry scenes of young people flashing passing cars, jumping into big bodies of water and riding bareback on vespas.

With decades of social growth between them, ck2’s campaign is less about just breaking gender boundaries as it is about taking gender out of the equation. Through their campaign hashtag, #the2ofus, and corresponding amorous photography, ck2 brings with it a hazy youthful optimism around sexuality and relationships in an attempt to reveal the sexual openness of this generation. Today’s Calvin Klein uses the same sensuality and sense of unity through rebellion as CK One once did, though it’s less confrontational. What’s clear is that ck2 has no need to break the same cultural ground as CK One did circa 1994.

The Calvin Klein fragrances

There’s consistency and contrast, too, in these Calvin Klein fragrances. Both play with fresh and green ingredients, inclusions that equate personal freedom with feeling clean, earthy, or in a way, connected. ck2, developed by perfumer Pascal Gaurin, who created scents for Calvin Klein’s Eternity collection, has an immediate dewy and aquatic character, with salty overtones, wasabi, airy violet, and woody notes. Unlike CK One, it has an ease to it: ck2 is a clean, idealized zen-garden scent. In contrast, CK One envelopes with crisp citrus and green tea, and then moves boldly forward with cedar, pineapple and papaya, before drying on the skin as a fresh floral. Where the nineties spritz embodied a just-showered feeling, ck2 approaches feeling clean in a more soothing way.

In a cultural moment where women’s issues dominate our social arena, ck2’s gentler approach to gender-bending is one of the most interesting elements at play here. The 1990s’ CK One starts off more masculine, fading later into a sweet floral, whereas the new ck2 is predominantly softer throughout. As a whole, it has an open, welcoming presence and makes fewer sharp shifts than its sister scent.

calvin-klein-ck2The Calvin Klein ck2 packaging

The CK scents are both housed in simple packaging and treated like water: The bottles are colourless and minimalist, and outline the essential nature of these fragrances. That ck2’s bottle resembles a water cooler—designed by innovative product designer Cédric Ragot—suggests the notion that genderless fragrances are vital, not just flankers in the two-gender perfume marketplace.

The ck2 marketing attitude

The overall attitude of ck2 is more mainstream than its predecessor. Stripped away is the Calvin Klein that made breakthroughs, but the scent itself appeals, thanks especially to its campaign which cleverly leverages today’s changing cultural values. It’s also done this while remaining simple at heart with the scent itself.

In ck2, what was yesterday’s androgynous angst is today’s free-spirited fever, and we see a Calvin Klein that remains iconic and young-at-heart.

ck2-Ad 8.5x11-image-ph-mcginley,ryan-112315-final - LR

The colourful, eager ad campaign for Calvin Klein ck2. The brand takes a celebrity approach, much like it did in the ’90s, with the new scent. An Urban Outfitters collaboration, playing host to an inclusive #mycalvins promotion, represents the brand with young icons like Kendall Jenner and Justin Bieber, subbing in for Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg who were synonymous with the original spritz.

Calvin Klein CK One, $74 (100 ml),
Calvin Klein ck2, $67 (100 ml),

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This article was written by

Alex G. Brown is a freelance culture and fashion writer living in downtown Toronto. She wears CK One daily because it's unisex. She likes to turn things on their head—figuratively, not literally—and leave people thinking. She owes her interest in beauty products to the Kardashians and Nicki Minaj, but not equally.