Byline: Sharon Edelson

NEW YORK — The Donna Karan Co., which has focused on opening freestanding stores in far-flung places like Istanbul and Kuala Lumpur, is turning its attention to the U.S.
Discussing plans for DKNY and Donna Karan Collection stores in the U.S., Stephen Ruzow, president of Donna Karan, said, “We have received a commitment from an operator to open two stores — a DKNY shop and a Collection boutique — in New York. It is a very substantial retailer with stores in the U.S., Europe and the Far East.” He declined to name the company.
For the Manhattan stores, Donna Karan is looking for 8,000 to 10,000 square feet of space for DKNY and 5,000 to 7,000 square feet to house the Collection, Ruzow said. The company plans to open the units in spring 1996.
“We think the market potential for Donna Karan Collection is about six to 10 boutiques in the next few years,” Ruzow said. “They will be in major cities only. DKNY has a lot more potential.”
Ruzow said the company has signed a lease at the Americana Mall in Manhasset, N.Y. for a 7,500-square foot DKNY unit. The company is also talking to The Forum in Las Vegas, and actively looking for space in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills for DKNY boutiques.
“It’s funny being an American designer with a flagship in London and none in the U.S.,” Ruzow said.
Donna Karan’s U.S. stores will be licensed, as are the international units. But the company has a different arrangement with Judi Roaman, who operates a J. Roaman shop in East Hampton exclusively devoted to DKNY merchandise. A 1,000-square-foot J. Roaman store will open in Aspen on Tuesday at 103 Mill St.
Ruzow said the stores are not called DKNY because “we don’t have a formal relationship with Judy other than that of a normal specialty store account. We do, however, let Judy fixture the stores like a normal DKNY store, and we supply the creative.”
The J. Roaman stores use a prototype by Peter Marino, who designed the London flagship.
Ruzow added that the DKNY name is not on the two stores because they are smaller than the ideal for a DKNY unit.
“They are not typical of how we envision DKNY stores, which is in the 8,000-to-12,000-square-foot range,” Ruzow said. “We don’t see our stores in the 1,000-square-foot range. It’s not what we want to associate future Supershops with.”
The Aspen store will carry DKNY ready-to-wear and accessories as well as a line of DKNY performance skiwear.
Ruzow said the company has given Roaman permission to open three DKNY-fixtured stores in Stamford, Greenwich and Westport, all Conn. The stores will be called J. Roaman.
According to Ruzow, the East Hampton store, which opened in 1993 at 48 Newton Lane, does about $2,000 a square foot. He said he expects the Aspen store to be even more productive.
Two weeks ago, DKNY president Denise Seegal joined CK Calvin Klein. Seegal helped grow DKNY into a powerhouse bridge line in department stores and is likely to do the same for CK. DKNY is seeking a successor.

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