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Donna ups beds; pads brands

With a spacious and sunlit loft as its new stage, Donna Karan Home reintroduced itself at market with an expansion of its bedding offerings and the addition of new product categories and constructions for both of its brands — Donna Karan Collection and DKNY Life — through its recent licensing alliance with CHF Industries.

"We're really happy with CHF," said Patsy Pollack, president and ceo. "We're back on track with our deliveries now, and we are working to expand with our customer base."

Looking to attract new customers at the high-end level, including catalogs and specialty and department stores, the company made some major strides this market since pairing up with CHF to manufacture, market and distribute its line:

  • The doubling of new bedding offerings in the company's upstairs Donna Karan Collection to six from three.

  • The expansion of its bath business with embellished towel offerings and the introduction of more products to the Vintage Piqué collection, with six new colorways and designs and coordinating rugs, shower curtains, tub mats and robes.

  • The refocusing of its throws and decorative pillows as standalone offerings for use beyond the bedroom.

Spurring this growth, Pollack said, is the company's success with the Donna Karan Collection, its upstairs signature brand founded on design and predominately composed of bedding, but also including a handful of made-to-order luxury throws. As of this market, a standalone collection of bath accessories has been added. It includes a teak bath mat, waste basket and soap dish and ceramic lotion pump, toothbrush holder, jar, tray and soap dish.

"We're never going to have a solid-color towel program at $12.99 that is promoted every other week," she explained. "Our success in bedding is directly related to the decorative value of our product."

Pollack said the company is expanding its offerings for the higher-end market, like Collection, because "as we analyze our sell-through at retail, it's a significant part of our overall business."

But for this market, in an effort to grab more space on the selling floor, Collection's top-of-bed prices are all set at $400, rather than ranging from $400 through $500, Pollack said.

"It's no secret that business is tough for retailers right now," she explained. "This price is more acceptable, and we are able to look at more distribution channels."

Likewise, Donna Karan Home is building its DKNY Life brand with a larger product assortments for its Vintage Piqué bath line and a new emphasis on throws and decorative pillows — in a variety of sizes and constructions — as product categories independent of bedding.

"Our decorative pillows have sold disproportionally to our line, so it tells us that people are using them all over the house," said Janet Stein, director of retail planning.

Added Pollack, "Our obligation is to provide for the consumer who may not want a full bedding ensemble but [instead] an armful of decorative pillows to throw on the couch."

New product categories for both hard and soft home goods are in the horizon for Donna Karan Home, Pollack said, with beach towels launching in the next few months and utility bedding — "which many view as a commodity, but it doesn't have to be" — to come at a later date.

"We want to pursue traditional home categories but in a non-traditional way with different merchandise and merchandising," she said.

The company is also in the process of adding new positions and hiring staff to its design department to support the growth.

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