- The Origin
- Anne Klein
- Her style
- DKNY Launched
- LVMH Purchases Donna Karan International
- DKNY PR Girl
- Brand Development
- Current Situation
Donna Karan is an American designer, born as Donna Faske in Forest Hills, Long Island in 1948. She decided to become a designer when very young, having been surrounded by the world of fashion from childhood, her mother, father, and uncle all worked in the industry. After high school, she attended the Parson’s School of Design in New York. She spent the Summer of her second year, working for Anne Klein & Co. She was later hired as their assistant designer.
In 1974 Anne Klein died suddenly and Karan became the stylistic director at the age of 25. In 1982 she created the diffusion line Anne Klein II, which already bore her hallmark clean and modern style. Two years later these qualities were distinguished in her eponymous Collection, Donna Karan, which was the surname of her first husband who she married in 1973 and divorced immediately after. The launch of her own brand was made possible by Takiyho Inc., Japanese company owner of Anne Klein & Co.
The Collection, dynamic and essential in style, introduced her concept of the seven easy pieces. She proposed an intelligent wardrobe composed by few interchangeable pieces, perfect to wear in every moment of the day for a working woman, to whom she looks with particular attention. The color black is still the basis of her Collections today, a non-color that she regards as a canvas ready for painting. She reintroduced the leotard, proposing it in new, tight modeling stretch fabric to wear as clothing with a jacket for the office, and with a necklace for the evening.
The versatility and simplicity of the leotard had a huge impact on the dressing style of the second half of the 1980s, when there was a renewed interest in physical fitness and the leotard was capable of embracing this. Karan’s wrapping forms are typical of her style to accentuate the feminine lines and hide its defects. She uses cashmere, preferably in black, to stimulate the senses. Since the start of brand, new lines have been launched and new stores have opened every year.
In 1988 Karan extended her women’s ‘Donna Karan New York’ line by creating a less expensive clothing line for younger women, called DKNY. DKNY is the most successful line proved through record of sales. It is medium expensive with a target young, active, urban clientele who appreciates a casual elegance.
Several agreements have concluded on license, one of the most important is the one with Estée Lauder for a line of cosmetics in 1997. The Donna Karan empire now includes: women’s, men’s, and children’s wear, with lines ranging from elegant to casual, as well as accessories, cosmetics, and interior decor lines. Her second husband, Stephan Weiss, who she married in 1977, manages the company. It is a business that employs 2,000 workers and is quoted on the New York stock exchange. During the 1990s, Karan embraced the New Age philosophy in an attempt to find an existential balance in her frenetic life. She said:
“Everything I do is a matter of heart, body, and soul”.
Her personal and economic involvement is very important to her on the social front. She participated in two committees for the struggle against AIDS and in a charity for the research on ovarian cancer. She has won the Council of Fashion Designers of America award on several occasions, as well as the Coty American Fashion Critics award and other awards in the course of her career. Her old college honored her with an ad honorem degree in 1987. She lectures regularly at the Parson’s School of Design and she is on the committee of directors. Several books have been written about her, her style, and her ascent to designer of international fame.
In April 2001 the designer announced the sale of Donna Karan International for the sum of $250 million. The purchaser is the French group Lvmh, which had already acquired Donna Karan’s holding company. The total sale amounts to $643 million. The brand’s headquarters remain in New York. Lvmh’s intention is to ferry the company towards a luxury market. In 2002, DKNY re- launches its kidswear in collaboration with CWF (children worldwide fashion). DKNY jeans joined the American White House’s anti-drug campaign with release of a calendar that asking celebrities what their anti-drug is. Fourteen celebrities, including musicians and actors such as Enrique Iglesias, Brendan Fehr and Jay Hernandez, were featured in the calendar.
Later in May 2003 Donna Karan International announced that it would not produce a men’s Collection for the first time since 1992. Also, a convergence of the different facets of a woman’s life were seen on the runway for DKNY f/w 2003. The schoolgirls, the career woman, the preppy, and the punk there was something for everyone. The year 2003 reflected the sidewalk of the dynamic New York City; the spring collection was a revisit to the retro tinged dressing. DKNY hosted the Vanity Fair “In concert” to benefit Step Up Women’s Network, musician Mya and actress Chloe Sevigny attend the event at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. The first flagship store for Japan was opened in Omotesando: Shibuya Ward, Tokyo.
In 2004 the company re-Launched the menswear collection and the unconventional location for DKNY show marked one of the most remarkable year in its history. The menswear and womenswear collection was for the Urban Dwellers, the style ambitious, the time starved: The New Yorkers. Also this year, Donna Karan International and Luxottica Group S.p.A. signed a five-year licensing agreement for the design, production and worldwide distribution of Donna Karan and DKNY prescription frames and sunglasses.
In 2005 Donna Karan was awarded with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” to recognize her outstanding efforts in the industry. Since 2005, Donna Karan has offered online shopping of its DKNY lines at the label’s web site. Products range from womenswear, accessories, shoes, baby clothing, and the PURE collection to menswear.
Mark Weber, the former chief executive officer of Phillips-Van Heusen, was appointed as the creative director for Donna Karan International replacing Jeffry Aronsson. The venue of DKNY show still remains a statement for the brand the 2006 spring collection was presented in Manhattan’s Classic Car Club, where models reclined amid streamlined roadsters in clothes borrowing style from the sixties.
After the death of Karan’s husband in 2001 suffering from Cancer she felt the need to convince medical professionals to treat the patient, not just the disease, so she established the Urban Zen foundation in 2007. Also, the company launched its first collection with Stardoll in August, an online community for female fashion lovers. In Spring 2008 brought back the seventies, the iconic jumpsuits was played with great bounce and upbeat energy.
Donna Karan started on social media in 2009 as one of the first luxury fashion brands to be in the space. The DKNY PR girl on twitter and tumblr, managed by Aliza Licht became a portal to engage consumers and reply to their complaints. Also, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the brand’s launch it focused on its bag collection and released seven new items each season starting autumn. Celebrations continued as the spring 2009 collection venue was switched from its usual standing-room-only to Bryant Park. This season saw a great connection with street wear than the previous seasons. The collection was embracing the momentum of fast fashion. Wearable basics with a hint of fun.
2010 was a year where DKNY launched itself into being a staple part of any girls wardrobe. It was mix of the mother-daughter style. DKNY ethos the buy now –wear now value through its collection through fall and spring 2010. Karan designed the prestigious Clinton Global Citizen Award in 2010, an honor to acknowledge the work with the Urban Zen Haiti Artisan Project. Karan was honored with a Gordon Parks Foundation Award for using creative means to change and educate the world.
At the beginning of 2012, DKNY opened its first stores in China and Russia. The company targeted fashion-minded fans via a new Facebook application that allows users to follow the creation of the brand’s dresses from start to finish. The Atelier Facebook app gives brand enthusiasts the opportunity to learn more about their favorite dresses from Donna Karan.
The #UK2012 was a campaign started to re-open its store in London, DKNY reached out to 50 industry influencers and asked them to begin discussing it using the #UK2012 hashtag. For DKNY, #UK2012 became a trending topic on Twitter with no paid media. It was also covered by the Wall Street journal as an extremely successful campaign.
Fall menswear DKNY presented its latest menswear collection at the glass-walled Nasdaq Market Site building, the first men’s brand to do so. The collection showed a new detail with every jacket having an iPhone pocket hidden in it.
During the 2013 MET Gala, an event to which most people do not have live access, DKNY made its own Twitter Ball to invite consumers to view the live stream with the brand. The online event tagline was “if you’re not invited, you’re invited.” The event generated 408 user tweets mentioning @DKNY, @VogueMagazine and #METGala . Vogue also streamed @DKNY tweets on its Web site during the night.
DKNY expanded its outdoor advertising efforts through a variety of art installations around the world. It commissioned 10 artists from 10 cities; New York, London, Paris, Milan, Dubai, Kuwait City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo to create outdoor art that interprets New York City. In addition to the microsite, DKNY h also released an augmented reality app for iOS and Android that invites users to take photos of each work to pull up a contextual video. To spark further engagement, a 10 x 13-foot piece of 3D art in London was moved among three undisclosed locations. To find it, users had to seek out clues on Twitter and Facebook.
Though primarily a branding campaign, there is a sales tie-in: DKNY released a #dknyarts collection featuring work printed on tote bags, scarves and other items.
2014 started with a campaign which included a special collaboration with Cara Delevingne for a capsule collection, and also an Instagram contest to find the perfect models to shoot with Cara in New York. As a result, just within the first 12 hours of the campaign, there were more than 23,000 submissions with the specific hashtags.
DKNY marked its 25th anniversary revisiting some of the line’s greatest hits, Carrie Bradshaw made pieces like the low back naked dress particularly famous during this period. Also, DKNY launched in the middle eastern market by a capsule collection during Ramadan. Partnering with notable celebrities it reached a wider audience.
LVMH Sells DKNY
LVMH agreed to sell Donna Karan International to G-III Apparel Group for $650 Million. Then, in June 2015 Donna Karan steps down from the label. Aliza Licht leaves DKNY PR girl portal following Donna Karan. Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne appointed as the new Creative Directors of DKNY. In addition, Hector Muelas was named Chief Image Office of Donna Karan International. After such huge changes the year ended by the design of the new logo of DKNY, the typeface Franklin Gothic replaced the blocky lettering, the logo was launched in spring 2016.
Chow and Osborne made attempts to retain the brand identity as being a mature womenswear brand. They decided that 40% of the global media budget will be invested digitally. This was a significant step for the brand, which invested 5 percent in digital in 2015.
The company participated in the NEW INC series, a part of DKNY’s collaboration with the museum’s New Women Project, which provides support to female artists. Also, they launched an Experiential Bus Tour Campaign for the DKNY #BeTempted Perfume Launch. It was created around a promotional bus tour that travelled across the UK with a bespoke photo experience on board.
In 2017 Bella Hadid is the muse for the new DKNY campaign. Also, there is a new partnership deal with Farfetch’s Black & White Division, DKNY is trying to connect with consumers on multiple levels. DKNY co-creative directors Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne exited the company January, along with DKI chief executive officer Caroline Brown.
DKNY is re-launching its site to accelerate e-commerce for shoppers and trying to capitalize on Farfetch’s proprietary technology. Features such as intuitive navigation, individualized messaging, wish list features, a localized homepage and a fully responsive mobile platform and offer same-day shipping in New York, London, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, with Manchester to follow.