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Report: LVMH Is Trying to Sell Donna Karan

Just when we thought the industry couldn't get more shaken up.
Dao-yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne at the fall 2016 DKNY runway show. Photo: JP Yim

Dao-yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne at the fall 2016 DKNY runway show. Photo: JP Yim

It's pretty easy to tell which of LVMH's brands are doing well and which ones might be struggling, even if the French luxury conglomerate doesn't typically break out individual sales figures. Take this language from the company's 2015 earnings report, for example: "Progress at Fashion brands, in particular Fendi, Céline, Givenchy and Kenzo," and, "Remarkable momentum at Christian Dior which gained market share globally."

The stragglers have been two of the company's American houses: Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan. "Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs continued to work on changes to their product lines," read the latest report. "Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan continued the repositioning of their collections," noted the one before that.

Donna Karan, the woman, left the company she founded about a year ago. LVMH, which bought the company in 2001, immediately shelved her designer line, focusing its efforts on the lower-priced DKNY, now designed by Public School's Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne. In April, the conglomerate announced it had done away with the DKNY Jeans and DKNY C lines. And on Thursday, Page Six published a report that LVMH is planning to unload DKNY and Donna Karan International altogether and sell it to a "a single, specific American buyer," citing "disappointing performance" of DKNY under Chow and Osborne. The designers' first collection was for spring 2016, meaning it would have hit stores towards the beginning of this year.

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No one else has reported the news — and no one involved has commented — so it could certainly be false. But it wouldn't be an entirely outlandish decision on LVMH's part, given the brand's recent trajectory and comments Karan has made about her parent company in the past — specifically, lamenting that LVMH didn't pay her brand enough attention. In addition, LVMH is largely a beauty, leather goods and accessories business, and Donna Karan is all about the clothes.

We'll keep an eye on this story and report back once we know more.

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