DKNY Jeans is expanding into European and Asian markets through a licensing agreement with Club 21 Retail Holdings. The Singapore-based company, owned by Christina Ong, will manufacture, market and distribute the brand and will manage its freestanding and in-store shops. The deal will not affect the agreement with Liz Claiborne Inc, which still has the exclusive rights for DKNY Jeans in North and South America.
“The DKNY brand is a much bigger brand than the business that’s currently available,” Mark Weber, chief executive of Donna Karan International, told WWD. “There’s an appetite for this brand. Globally, in DKNY accessories and ready-to-wear, we have a very strong business and it’s growing. Jeans is the natural extension of the business.” Until now, the jeans business in the Europe and Asia has been “very small and sporadic”.
The choice logically fell on Club 21 to help expand the label, as the company has been a partner of Donna Karan International in a number of Asian markets since 1995. Club 21 is also a licensee for brands like Giorgio Armani, Balenciaga, Marni, Dolce e Gabbana, Mulberry and ck Calvin Klein. According to Weber, Club 21 understands the DKNY business and the “opportunity to grow is great”.
The strategy for growth in Europe and Asia will come from a combination of directly owned stores, specialty stores and department store units. Weber explained that with taxes and differing currencies, the brand would be positioned a slightly higher tier than in the US market.
This is the first time in months that DKNY is giving growth of the label a major push. “In order to grow, you need to be looking beyond the borders of the US,” Weber said. “This is our first attempt in the last couple of months to go out in a major way with a new introduction.”
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