New York-based fashion brand, DKNY is known for its premium clothing, shoes, and handbags – but can DKNY be considered a luxury brand?
New York is the home of many luxury designer brands, which is why thousands of people travel from all over the world to go shopping in New York City. But can we consider DKNY a luxury brand alongside other American top luxury houses like Tom Ford and Tiffany’s?
There are arguments to be had on both sides. Some people consider DKNY a luxury label because of its high-quality products, especially leather goods, and the trendy and stylish design of the DKNY men’s and womenswear collections – including swimwear, intimates, and sleepwear.
However, DKNY no longer shows its collections at New York Fashion Week, and many of the products are not sold at luxury prices.
The article will explore the history of the brand, the quality of pieces from DKNY, as well as some of the top products from the brand, before coming to a conclusion on the question – is DKNY actually a luxury brand?
Is DKNY a luxury brand?
The history of DKNY
Donna Karan founded her own brand in 1984 after working for fashion designer, Anne Klein for 15 years, 10 of those she was the head designer. Karan named her new fashion label Donna Karan New York, also known as Donna Karan Collection, and it quickly became revolutionary in the 1980s fashion world.
Donna Karan created the seven easy pieces collection, which was a selection of items that were interchangeable and would suit weekdays or the weekend – the beginning of the capsule wardrobe.
The birth of DKNY came in 1989, after the major success Karan and her husband and business partner, Stephan Weiss, founded their mainline. This line was inspired by their daughter Gaby and the aim was to create a collection that was more affordable and appealed to younger audiences.
Many labels have since grown from the DKNY brand, including DKNY Jeans, DKNY Underwear, and DKNY Kids. In the early 2000s, the DKNY home range was launched, offering stylish bedding, bathroom ranges, and curtains.
The Donna Karan headquarters are still in Midtown Manhattan, while there are seventy Donna Karan New York and DKNY stores worldwide. And, as you would expect, both labels have been available online since 2005.
The Donna Karan brand has gone through several changes since its launch. In 2001, both of the Donna Karan lines were bought by the French luxury brand conglomerate LVMH – Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy. Then in 2015, Donna Karan herself left Donna Karan International, as she wanted to focus more on her Urban Zen brand and Urban Zen Foundation.
In 2016, LVMH sold Donna Karan International, which includes the mainline and DKNY, to G-III Apparel Group. Now, DKNY has grown into a full lifestyle brand, with home wear, leather goods, women’s and menswear collections, jewelry, and lingerie all on offer.
The Quality of DKNY
Looking at the quality of an expensive clothing brand is a great way to tell if the brand can be considered a luxury – so we’re going to explore the materials, craftsmanship, and price range of DKNY items to determine the quality of the brand.
1. Brand style
Firstly, it’s key to note that DKNY is like the younger sister brand of Donna Karan New York – it was designed to appeal to a younger audience and be available at a more affordable price range. This decision has informed the style of clothing the brand offers, how clothes and bags are made, and the price tag they have.
Since DKNY’s target market is a little younger, DKNY designs often feature the logo, fitting in with the logomania trend, lots of black and white, and plenty of athleisure-inspired designs – in keeping with what is considered the most fashionable at the moment.
2. Price range
If you are looking at DKNY bags, they are usually on offer for between $100 and $498 – which is pretty affordable. There are often sales as well, so you may be able to find your favorite bag for an even lower price.
For shoes, including boots, sandals, and heels, the prices range from $89 to $269 – so is a great option if you are looking for stylish shoes that won’t break the bank.
There are loads of different clothes available on the DKNY website, the perfect pieces for any season – with the most expensive piece available a leather jacket for $595. So, the clothes do have a relatively high price tag, but there are lots on offer so you are bound to find a piece you love in your price range.
3. Materials and craftsmanship
DKNY bags are made from a wide range of materials, with the main body of the bag, the trim, and the lining made from different, good-quality materials. Some of the more luxurious bags are made from 100% leather, either in a smooth finish or a texture pebbled finish.
Others are made from polyester, cotton, or polyurethane for a more durable finish – often these are then trimmed with leather. A couple of the bags do not have a material listed in the description, so it is difficult to know the quality.
Most products from DKNY are made in China, whilst a couple of items are said to be made in Italy – the craftsmanship is then reflected in the price tag.
The quality of DKNY products is good, materials are hardwearing and luxurious while the craftsmanship ensures items are well made and durable – but the quality is in no way on the same level as some of the more luxurious brands such as Ralph Lauren, Alexander McQueen, Tory Burch, Giorgio Armani or Christian Dior.
Our top picks from DKNY
The fashion house, DKNY has loads of really incredible clothes, shoes, and handbags on offer – making it difficult to narrow it down to our favorite products! DKNY handbags are beloved bags, that look stunning and are pretty affordable too, while the DKNY shoes are striking and so fashionable.
1. tote bags
DKNY has some great tote bags on offer – whether you are looking for something a little more minimalist, or you love a logo, you will definitely spot something you love.
The Effortless tote’s unique silhouette and practicality make it a must-have in your wardrobe. The wide triangle sides mean the bag has plenty of space, or they can be folded in to create a more compact tote bag. The bag is crafted from soft, supple pebbled leather, and then embellished with delicate gold DKNY logo hardware.
With the dual top handles and removable shoulder strap, the tote has multiple styling options. Inside features interior pockets and a removable mirror for ultimate practicality.
If you are looking for something a little more functional and simple, then the Elsa Medium Tote is exactly what you need. The oversized tote is made from shiny black leather and then has been quilted with the DKNY logo for a subtle logo design that is bound to suit a whole range of smart and casual looks.
The open top ensures easy access to the roomy interior, while the inner pocket helps you remain organized. We love that this tote is also available in white and grey.
2. crossbody bags
Who doesn’t love a crossbody bag? They’re so handy, and both of these options from the popular luxury brand DKNY are completely gorgeous.
The Orion Crossbody has a beautiful, sleek silhouette, with a totally practical design making it the perfect everyday handbag. The curved, semi-circular shape is reflected in the quilting on the front of the bag, and the small zip pouch that attaches to the crossbody strap. The adjustable and detachable black strap means you can style this bag in a whole variety of ways.
Made from supple leather, the bag is available in white or black, each minimally decorated with a sparkling silver DKNY logo.
For something a little more fun and quirky, the Sophie Crossbody is perfect. The buttery soft bag features an eye-catching oversized knotted top handle, as well as a functional chain strap with a leather shoulder pad for comfort. Opening the magnetic front flap reveals a luxuriously lined interior with a wall pocket so your phone or wallet is always easy to find.
We absolutely love the bag in this pale green lime zest color, but if you are looking for something a bit more neutral, the bag is also available in black.
3. front flap bags
The front flap bags from DKNY offer easy access and a stylish design – what more could you want?
The Lara Quilted shoulder flap bag has a polished design; the diamond quilting is timeless and finished off perfectly with a silver DKNY logo. The chain strap means the bag can be worn as a shoulder bag or slung across the body for endless versatility.
The front flap opens up to reveal a spacious interior, which is split into two and features a zip pocket so you can stay totally organized. The large size also means you can fit all your essentials for a long day out – just perfect!
For something a little more compact, the Winonna in the medium size is just ideal. This sleek and polished front flap bag has a minimalist design, with only the DKNY logo as the decoration on the front. But the web strap really packs a punch – the black and white strap is printed in bold block letters with DKNY for a completely striking design.
The magnet front flap opens to a satin-lined interior with a wall pocket to keep your phone safe and easy to grab! This lipstick pink shade is just gorgeous and just perfect to add a pop of color to any outfit.
It’s not just fabulous bags, DKNY also offers stunning shoes too – everything from heels to sandals to sneakers, there is something for any style!
These Macia Slingback Pumps are the perfect glossy black heels that will suit any special occasion look. The sharp silhouette includes a sleek pointed toe and curved slingback strap to secure your heel in place, all finished with a 4-inch stiletto heel.
These pumps are a classic shoe that will become a staple in your wardrobe, plus they retail for just $129! These heels are also available in white, metallic purple, or metallic green so there really is an option for every style.
If you are looking for a more casual shoe, then you need these Daray Buckle Block Heel Booties in your life. The chunky block 3.25-inch heel and thick 1.25-inch platform sole ground these stylish leather boots.
The boots are decorated with sparkling silver buckles and topstitching for a chic look, while the side zipper ensures the boots are easy to slip on and off. The black leather is a timelessly classic option, but you can also pick up these shoes in glossy burgundy leather or crackle black leather with an eye-catching look.
DKNY offers lots of stylish bags and shoes, as well as stunning womenswear collections that are all up to date with the latest trends at more affordable prices.
Due to the price range and quality of DKNY products, the brand is in the low-to-mid section of the luxurious brand ranks, which offers more accessible luxury items. Some of the timeless, classic styles of handbags, made from leather and high-quality jackets and formal clothing fit into the affordable luxury market, but not all DKNY bags or clothes are made from these same materials.
That’s why we would hesitate to call DKNY a luxury brand – instead, it’s best referred to as accessible luxury or even premium high-street. It’s certainly not on the same level as true luxury brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, or other instantly recognizable luxury names.
If you are looking for more luxury and high quality, then it’s best to head to a different brand, such as one of these 25 top luxury clothing brands.
However, if you are after accessible, affordable luxury, then DKNY is a great brand to go for – especially if you like their logo!
We hope you loved this analysis of whether DKNY is a luxury brand! For more luxury fashion content, check out the links below.