This story first appeared in the April 20, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The 600-square-foot shop features luxury sportswear, along with artisanal jewelry, handbags and home decor including vases, pottery and artwork from Haiti, as well as her late husband Stephan Weiss’ sculpture and artwork.
“I started Donna Karan here. It’s sort of like home,” said Karan, interviewed at the shop last week. “[At first] I wanted to sell two stores — Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus — and of course that got out of hand,” recalled Karan, who went on to build Donna Karan International. Karan stepped down from DKI in June to focus on Urban Zen and her philanthropic endeavors, and DKI put the Donna Karan Collection on hiatus.
As she nipped and tucked the clothes and rearranged the necklaces on the mannequins, Karan chatted with customers who walked into the boutique. She explained that Bergdorf president Joshua Schulman suggested that Urban Zen take over the Donna Karan Collection space, beginning this month with spring merchandise.
“We did $70,000 the first day on the floor,” said Jenny Brown, the store’s buyer. Elizabeth von der Goltz, senior vice president, general merchandise manager of women’s ready-to-wear, beauty and jewelry, said Urban Zen appeals to Karan’s existing customers and new customers, many of whom don’t realize Karan designs it. Bestsellers include the “Perfect” white cotton shirt ($695); A-line white cotton pocket shirt ($695), sage long-sleeve cotton/linen draped knit sweater ($1,095); black stretch denim skinny pants ($795), and tribal print silk caftan ($1,995).
Urban Zen, which is sold to several specialty stores including Neapolitan Collection in Winnetka, Ill., just landed the Forty Five Ten account in Dallas. The brand has freestanding boutiques in New York, Sag Harbor, N.Y., and Manhasset (which will open April 29) and will reopen its West Hollywood, Calif. store, complete with a kitchen and outdoor space, in September.
Asked why she wants the headaches of building another fashion brand, Karan replied, “I need a collection for myself to wear.”