Donna Karan Toners

Designing a Category

Core Skills:

  • Innovation; Leadership in New Product Development
  • Identifying Unmet need
  • Creating a Category (Essential Toners)
  • Experience selling into Department Stores

Problem / Challenge
As the brand manager on Donna Karan Hosiery, I managed a $3MM marketing budget and was responsible for annual sales and operating budget targets. Despite the intimate connection to the designer’s fashion collections, the basic day-to-day business drove the majority of the $25MM+ revenue each year. The challenge in maintaining a price premium for a basic necessity takes considerable consumer awareness and coordinated interaction between the consumer, the retailer and the brand team.

The Opportunity
The opportunity for Donna Karan Hosiery was to continue to exceed consumer expectations on product quality and selection while establishing a leadership position is new product options. I had a world-class research and development team devoted to the brand so quality and selection were offered on a consistent basis. But, we needed to continue to surprise and delight our users so we began thinking about how we could (functionally) support her in denier and (emotionally) advocate her desire to feel beautiful.

Working directly with the Donna Karan creative group, my own business planning team and monitoring the apparel industry we began to see an emerging opportunity. No one was offering women a hosiery product with “girdle” like properties. What if we could produce a hosiery line that provided elegance on the leg with a girdle behind the clothes?

After numerous prototypes, customer research and hours of discussion we finally found our product – The Donna Karan Essential Toner. Shortly there after we determined that another toning product was required – The Donna Karan Bottom Lifter. As the brand leader, I lead the development and commercialization of these shape-improving products. Responsibilities included working directly with research and development to finalize the product, partnering with the Donna Karan creative team to establish the color palette and pricing strategy and aligning Brand business goals with those of our key retailers to coordinate a profitable launch to a sustaining new category of hosiery.

Priced slightly higher than the Donna Karan hosiery base line, the Essential Toner and the Bottom Lifter were quick successes as they addressed a woman’s need for body shaping hosiery while maintaining the femininity of an intimate fashion product. The Essential Toners line drove incremental revenue while profitably growing the total hosiery category. Retail accounts appreciated the merchandising ties back to the Base Business packaging and our creative commitment to using models on our packaging and account specific direct pieces.

  • The Essential Toner became the #1 selling SKU in the base business and quickly became the industry standard in hosiery that toned and / or enhanced a woman’s body.
  • The Donna Karan Hosiery portfolio recorded sales of $25MM, up +15% to YAG.

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