DKNY is debuting a new e-commerce site in partnership with Farfetch in another attempt at reinvention. DKNY will become the first American brand to team with Farfetch’s Black & White Division, an offering designed to help power the e-commerce sites of brands while allowing them to maintain autonomy. (The Black & White Division is set to help Farfetch compete with similar platforms like Yoox Net-a-Porter. Manolo Blahnik was the company’s first partner in March 2016.) DKNY will use Farfetch to emphasize personalization and customer service, using technologies like individualized messaging, a comprehensive mobile platform and easy checkout.
DKNY has undergone several periods of attempted reinvention in recent years, as a result of slumping sales in a particularly competitive market. In August 2015, it erased its Instagram and Twitter history after founder Donna Karan stepped down from her role as chief designer. At the same time, the company bid farewell to Aliza Licht, the brand’s social media director. DKNY relaunched its Instagram in conjunction with its hiring of Public School designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne that debuted at New York Fashion Week in September 2015.
In July 2016, shortly after the departure of Karan and Licht, LVMH Group sold Donna Karan International, the owner of DKNY, to G-III Apparel Group in a $650 million deal. Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne stepped down soon after, in December. LVMH does not share individual company performance, but its estimated annual sales were at $450 million, meaning G-III paid 1.9 times less than LVMH did when it bought the company for $643 million in 2003. It was a telling sign of the brand’s struggles, as LVMH rarely sells off its brands. The last sale the fashion conglomerate made prior to DKNY was Christian Lacroix in 2005.
The launch of the site was timed in accordance with the launch of DKNY’s spring/summer 2017 campaign featuring model Bella Hadid, which was shot by photographer Collier Schorr. Luca Solca, managing director at Exane BNP Paribas, said the site and use of Hadid appears to be a move for DKNY to regain clout — though he is not confident it will be effective. “At the moment, they appear eclipsed and in the shadow,” he said.
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