KARAN PRODUCTION PACT
Byline: Samantha Conti / With contributions from Eric Wilson, New York
MILAN — Although LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s acquisition of Donna Karan International is still in the final stages, the company already has begun to explore the consolidation of its collection manufacturing in Italy, according to sources.
Once the acquisition is completed, the company also will likely fold the Donna Karan Signature line of luxury basics into the Donna Karan Collection, the high-end collection that is shown on the runways, the sources said.
Donna Karan already produces some of her women’s line in Milan, but also manufactures a large portion of it in Hong Kong and in the U.S. When LVMH announced last December that it would acquire Karan’s company, the European conglomerate’s manufacturing capabilities were cited as one of the benefits its ownership would bring to the designer’s company.
A spokeswoman for DKI could not confirm the company’s production intentions on Friday. However, Giuseppe (Pino) Brusone, chief executive officer of DKI since July, and Franco Pene, chairman of the the Italian manufacturing company Gibo Co. SpA, recently have been seen together at industry events, and are believed to have discussed the possibility of centralizing the collection production.
Brusone reportedly is looking at “many” different companies, including Gibo, which is based near Florence, and Corporate, in Parma.
“Talks are still going on, no decisions have been made yet, but the idea is to transfer some of the production to Italy,” a source here said. “And what they’re talking about are production contracts, not licenses.”
Neither Brusone nor Pene could be reached for comment. Karan also was traveling in Europe and could not be reached.
Transferring production to Italy would be one of the first big moves by its new management. Talk of transferring all or part of Donna Karan’s production to Italy is not entirely surprising, as Brusone has an in-depth knowledge of how the Italian clothing production machine works.
Brusone spent 14 years at Giorgio Armani, most recently as managing director. In addition to overseeing the designer’s in-house production, he is credited with turning around Armani’s jeans manufacturer, Simint SpA, transforming it from a near-bankrupt company into a profitable business.
This would not be Donna Karan’s first foray into Italy. Part of the designer’s men’s wear collection was produced here by the Neapolitan company ICA and other manufacturers.
She also wouldn’t be the first American designer to land in Italy. Until earlier this year, Calvin Klein produced his signature collection under license with Mariella Burani Fashion Group, and CK collection for Europe and the Mideast via a joint venture with Stefanel, but both of those contracts were terminated this year.