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As DKNY expands its presence in China with JD.com, how did the iconic fashion brand become a luxury household name?

By Melanie Kruger on 10th February 2019

When it comes to iconic fashion brands, it doesn’t get much bigger or better than Donna Karan New York – or as it’s better known to the masses, DKNY. Ruling the roost when it comes to everything from fragrances to handbags, the coveted brand is a regular appearance in high-end department stores and boutiques alike – and now it’s branching out and expanding its presence with the launch of an official flagship shore on JD.com.

The partnership with JD.com – China’s largest online retailer – represents an exciting time of change and advancement for DKNY. Launched in January of this year, the store makes the brand’s cool yet classic New York-inspired looks accessible to more than 300 million Chinese consumers – so fans either living in the country or travelling on business will now have their favourite brand in easy reach.

It’s a big move for DKNY, with JD.com – a leader in technology-based e-commerce solutions, from marketing to logistics founder by Richard Liu – set to strengthen DKNY’s online sales in China thanks to its big data analysis, smart logistics and supply chain management.

DKNY shop at Emquatier, Bangkok, Thailand, Dec 25, 2018 : Luxury and fashionable brand window display. New collection of clothings and bag showcase at flagship store.
When it comes to iconic fashion brands, it doesn’t get much bigger or better than Donna Karan New York – or as it’s better known to the masses, DKNY. Image credit: v74/Bigstock.com

Steven Shen, the CEO of DKNY Greater China, says: “This partnership puts DKNY in the spotlight, leading the future of the fashion industry. Working with JD on cross-channel marketing will help us to exceed consumers’ expectations and enable us to combine the best of the online and offline retail experience. JD is the right destination for us to make the latest clothing and handbag trends from New York readily accessible in the Chinese market.”

It’s great news that the beloved brand is now available in China – but DKNY aren’t the only ones celebrating. Kevin Jiang, vice president of JD.com said that the retails giant was equally excited by the move.

“Shoppers today expect more access to global luxury brands, especially online. Our partnership with DKNY fits well with our strategy to give JD customers access to premium brands while having a top-notch shopping experience. By combining JD’s logistics and e-commerce expertise with DKNY’s iconic fashion offerings, we are helping the brand continue to make a lasting impact on China’s luxury fashion consumers.”

Launched back in 1989, DKNY came about when fashion designer Donna Karan found herself inspired by her teenage daughter’s fashion demands. Since then, the brand name has been synonymous with New York, interpreting the city’s different cultures and unique styles into fashion. DKNY is one of several luxury brands to launch on JD.com in the last several months.

In celebration of the exciting partnership, let’s take a look at just how far Donna Karan’s brand has come in recent years – going from a small fashion line to the luxury household name it is today.

Launched back in 1989, DKNY came about when fashion designer Donna Karan found herself inspired by her teenage daughter’s fashion demands. Image credit: Sorbis/Bigstock.com

How it all began

Karan worked for 15 years at Anne Klein, spending 10 of those as the brand’s head designer. In 1984 Karan and her late husband Stephan Weiss were offered the opportunity to start their own business by the owner of Anne Klein, Takihyo LLC, with the company going on to become a publicly traded venture in 1996.

After the company was later purchased by the French conglomerate corporation Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, in 2001, Donna Karan decided to leave as chief designer at Donna Karan International to focus on her Urban Zen brand, while Donna Karan International was sold once again.

What’s in a name?

In 1985, Donna Karan New York was born, debuting in the autumn of that year with the women’s collection, ‘Seven Easy Pieces’. The focus was on the creation of “a handful of interchangeable items that worked together to create an entire wardrobe that goes from day to evening, weekday to weekend, season to season” – or what’s commonly referred to today as a capsule wardrobe.

In July 1991 she launched her first menswear collection, with the ‘New York’ wording in the brand’s name designed to set the pace and the attitude of the fashion house’s offering.

The brand’s first bricks-and-mortar store opened its doors in London in 1997. Image credit: Sorbis/Bigstock.com

Where to shop

The brand’s first bricks-and-mortar store opened its doors in London in 1997 – swiftly followed by a second in New York City in 1999. With headquarters located on Seventh Avenue, Mnahattan, there are currently 70 Donna Karan collection and DKNY stores across the globe.

Since 2005, Donna Karan has offered online shopping of its DKNY and associated lines via its website – with its latest partnership with Chinese giant JD.com thought to be its most exciting yet.

DKNY today

Today, DKNY is one of the most iconic names in fashion around the world, with its catwalk shows packed to the rafters every season with fashion fanatics desperate to get a peep at the handbags, garments and accessories set to make their mark on the season ahead. Starting from one small idea, it has achieved meteoric success – and at Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, we couldn’t quite imagine life without it.

Image at the very top of the article credit: DenisMArt/Bigstock.com