Runways are changing, seasons are blending, and big fashion brands are falling from grace, most recently observed in the LVMH sale of Donna Karan International to G-III Apparel Group. Everyone knows fashion is fickle, but it doesn’t have to be in this day-and-age. DKNY could have transitioned leadership and grown a new brand audience for the net generation, but they failed. Why? DKNY followed a fashion industry model that’s still risky business.

Here’s why DKNY didn’t make the grade and what we think DKNY should’ve done:

Explore new customers – but don’t alienate the old

Props to LVMH leadership for bringing in the “new guard” talent in co-creative designer duo Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow for DKNY. There was only one problem, they cut some of the core design offerings and alienated a consumer who had grown up with Donna. In place of the brand’s core aesthetic emerged über trendy, gender ambiguous designs where wrap dresses once stood.

Pick a direction – but don’t go all in without the data

What was once a staple American brand became almost unrecognizable. It was a risky move in an industry that thrives on – but doesn’t always reward – risk. After that initial season, they couldn’t back out of the design direction and branding. Too much money had been spent on high profile campaigns and thousands of units of stock. They stayed the course but the customers (and sales) left after feeling lost in this new aesthetic and sales reflected it.

Commit to make it work – but test to make it easy

LVMH Fashion Group Chairman and Chief Executive Pierre-Yves Roussel said of the sale “[A]t the end of the day, there is only so much that you can do. We have a lot of brands, there is investment, but where should we invest our money, what’s our best deal?” It’s a great question and right now, in fashion, the answer is it’s a bit of a crapshoot. Investment strategies are torn between business and creative direction.

But what if you could provide data and business intelligence to the creative side, making fashion just as data-driven as creative-driven?

DKNY needed a way to test new talent and new designs. The problem is that, historically, there has been no easy way to do that in the fashion industry with long production lead times, seasonal schedules, and inadequate access to customers. But this has changed…

And here my fashion friends, enters Nineteenth Amendment. Nineteenth Amendment’s platforms allows designers (of all sizes) to pre-sell collections without inventory and manufacture sales (from 1-1,000+) on-demand. Nineteenth Amendment gives brands real-time data on their sales and allows customers to give feedback on designs, without requiring investment in inventory. Why is this important? Just ask Donna. Giving brands a plug-and-play way to test and vet new creative direction, new brand offshoots, and more risky product categories – all without the traditional cash and operational risk normally found in fashion – sounds smart right? We certainly think so.

Thinking of joining the smart fashion revolution?

Get in touch and we’ll show you how data and on-demand is the new industry staple.