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PureDKNY is standing alone.

This story first appeared in the May 15, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Donna Karan International has opened its debut PureDKNY store at the Westfield Century City shopping center in Los Angeles. The 2,500-square-foot store is the first of what could be several locations for PureDKNY, a DKNY offshoot specializing in relaxed clothes that launched in 1999 with the idea of dressing New York women trading their restrictive office outfits for comfortable pieces for weekends in the Hamptons.

Nor is it the only new concept DKNY is trying. Over the weekend the brand opened a 590-square-foot travel retail store for small leather goods and handbags at the Atlanta Airport. The store is in partnership with the airport’s retail operator, Duty Free Americas.

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President of DKI retail Carol Sharpe said it made sense to try PureDKNY in Los Angeles because it is a lifestyle-driven city where work attire isn’t as formal as New York and PureDKNY could potentially build a large clientele for weekday as well as weekend dressing. She had been vetting Los Angeles streets for the initial store, but settled upon Westfield Century City after a visit to the center had her surprised by the retail mix, which includes Sephora, Karen Millen, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Michael Kors and soon Tory Burch.

“We toyed with what the right concept was for L.A., and we thought the relaxed concept was right,” said Sharpe during a tour of the store. The PureDKNY store has a white facade, a change from DKNY’s customary gray or black exteriors meant to signify the “pure” aspect of the brand. Inside, a light palette persists. The walls and ceiling are white, and the floor is soft gray. Clothing is displayed on tables or from racks lining the walls that are suspended from the ceiling. Pictures of New York reinforce the brand’s heritage, although much of the store’s wood tables and chairs were picked up in California.

PureDKNY has developed a specialty in shirts and shirt dresses, which have become perennial bestsellers. They fill one of the store windows, while blue and white pieces from the latest collection are showcased in the other. Sharpe also pointed to maxi dresses, cropped colored jeans and shirt jackets as good sellers for PureDKNY. Prices are mostly are under $300, but range from $100 for knits to $1,000 for leather items. Bags are priced between $200 and $400.

At the moment, PureDKNY is slated to be open at Westfield Century City for only a year, but Sharpe said she’d like to see it become a permanent fixture of the shopping center. Beyond Century City, Sharpe would not specify how many PureDKNY stores are planned over the next few years. However, she’s already considering other cities — she singled out San Francisco — for future stores. Beach communities in the U.S. and abroad could be possibilities as well.

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