The Nudes by Donna Karan

Innovative Design and Execution

Core Skills:

  • Innovation; Leadership in New Product Development
  • Creating a Category (The Nudes – Cosmetics for the Skin)
  • Extending a Franchise into an Incremental Sustainable Business Line

Problem / Challenge
Historically the women’s hosiery industry had concentrated on products that “covered up” or “accessorized” our legs. Prior to the launch of The Nudes by Donna Karan no brand had focused on offering “Cosmetics for the Leg.” The idea of improving your own natural look wasn’t even an option unless your skin happened to be “Sun-Tan” colored. Never mind the fact that women of color were completely ignored. As women – of all cultures – began to re-think their wardrobes and embrace casual dress in the business environment, The Donna Karan brand was perfectly positioned to offer consumers a viable and fashionable hosiery option. The idea was to celebrate a woman’s own “color” in a comfortable product that supported both her emotional and physical needs. A new category was developing and as brand manager of the Donna Karan Hosiery portfolio at Hanes Hosiery, I was embracing the challenge.

The Opportunity
Donna Karan Hosiery is a licensed brand within the Hanes Hosiery portfolio and designed to reflect and augment Ms. Karan’s fashion brand. As the brand manager on the business it was my responsibility to achieve annual sales and operating profit targets while nurturing our shared brand equity in Donna Karan and her mid-tier brand DKNY. This meant maintaining a base day-to-day hosiery offering, launching seasonal extensions twice a year and offering a steady stream of category-leading innovations to our retail accounts; a fast-paced, fashion-driven environment that promoted collaboration and drove innovation.

The idea to launch The Nudes by Donna Karan was genius in that is captured the emerging needs of women at exactly the right time. The commercialization of the line was a result of a dedicated cross-functional team and one that I was proud to lead; and, one that produced groundbreaking creative, product packaging while adding mystic and excitement to the hosiery industry.

As lead on the internal cross-functional team, I was responsible for commercializing the rollout of The Nudes. I was the project leader among a team of business planning and distribution associates, production control and quality managers, finance and pricing advisors, packaging and promotions specialists, a team of sales, manufacturing and research and development professionals and the creative talent within the Donna Karan organization. It took everyone’s hard work to execute and a coordinated effort with our global retail customers to achieve.
The Nudes line of hosiery was launched in seven different colors, each capturing a unique spectrum of skin variation, and three styles, Sheer to Waist, Control Top and Thigh High. The line was later augmented with an Essential Toner option.
The original packaging for The Nudes was a work of art. Using fashion models and emphasizing the product, the creative was revolutionary. The fact that it was built to be a self-enclosed package that evoked “gift-giving” was the first of its kind. And, the way the styles and photography worked at retail was world-class.
Promotions / Place
The 400-door launch was successfully supported with customer specific direct mail pieces, engaging point-of-sale merchandise and creative that not only highlighted the new line, but drove traffic into the hosiery department.

Creative Messaging
Breaking industry tradition, The Nudes by Donna Karan was supported with break-through Out-of-Home and Print Ads; each piece of creative utilizing the elegant and sophisticated imagery seen at retail.
The Donna Karan hosiery line was routinely priced and positioned as a fashion accessory, typically the most expensive option in the store. However maintaining an above average price-point (that was never discounted) was never a problem. Women were willing to pay for quality and well-designed products and the inventive of The Nudes was no exception.

  • The line launched internationally in 400 doors, including Quebec, London and Paris
  • Sales from The Nudes drove total portfolio sales +15% to $25MM with a +26% gain in new product revenue
  • Brand awareness grew +18% in FY96 as news of The Nudes dominated the industry

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