By  on September 28, 2010

NEW YORK — The way Donna Karan viscerally connects with her customers is the stuff of industry legend. During personal appearances, she likes to step into the dressing room to help her clients try on looks, gives them fashion advice, and often becomes their on-site best friend and confidante.

Donna Karan International’s new e-commerce site, which goes live today, is as close to a personal appearance by the designer as possible. From engaging consumers in an interactive way to addressing issues of philanthropy and social responsibility, it is filled with Donna-isms that serve to translate Karan’s own inspiring qualities onto computer screens. Designed and built by online design firm Createthe Group and powered by CTS Ecommerce Platform, the site, which can be accessed through donnakaran.com and DKNY.com, takes a content-meets-commerce approach. In a groundbreaking move for a fashion house, DKI is partnering with New York magazine and the nymag.com site for content on things to do in Gotham, Karan’s evergreen source of inspiration.

“Donna Karan New York and DKNY have always embraced the two sides of New York City — a limousine and a taxi driver, caviar and pizza,” Karan said. “This e-commerce site brings you both in one place. More than a place to shop, it’s a complete brand experience, where commerce meets content with the style and energy of New York City.”

Company executives consider the launch bigger than the opening of any previous store. Karan is not new to e-commerce, having sold DKNY merchandise at DKNY.com since 2005. This is the first time she is selling Collection online, and she does so under the same roof as DKNY, with a centralized customer service and shopping cart. That said, each brand has a distinct voice, and visitors can easily toggle between DKNY and Donna Karan Collection.

James Gardner, founder and chief executive officer of Createthe Group, said a mandate was to “make the whole experience between DKNY and Donna Karan collection seamless, quick and easy-to-shop.

“Our view is that the Collection and the DKNY consumer are different, but there is overlap and cross-sell opportunity between the two,” Gardner noted. “The Collection consumer coming to buy a $9,000 piece of ready-to-wear may see a DKNY item. Similarly, the DKNY consumer buying a $300 or $400 bag may come in and see a Donna Karan Collection bag at $1,000 or $1,500 and upgrade for that. We are making it very quick and easy for her to find the product, and the product imagery is very desirable.”

The site’s editorialized content is extensive, and allows visitors to shop runway looks; learn about Karan’s iconic system of dressing; view “Donna’s Journal,” from perusing Karan’s personal must-have items called “Love, Love, Love”; read interviews with some of her famous friends at “DK Talk” (the first Q&A being “Mad Men” star Christina Hendricks), and find out information about Karan’s extensive inspirational journeys at “DK Travel.” An ongoing feature called “Ask Donna” lets shoppers directly ask Karan questions, making the site almost as intimate as a personal appearance.


Karan was keen to make the site as easy to shop as her actual boutique. For instance, customers can view each runway look from the season and scroll their mouse across it to get a back view, or click for a detail shot which is as clear as holding the actual garment. The page also features a link to view the entire fashion show video.

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