Remember When Donna Karan Started A Clothing Line To Prevent Her Daughter from Stealing Her Clothes?

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The year was 1989 and Donna Karan was totally tired of her daughter raiding her closet.

At the time, the designer was best known for her namesake brand and the creation of Seven Easy Pieces. These easily adaptable and interchangeable wardrobe staples were built for the working woman—it also revolutionized how females presented themselves in offices around the world. And while those board room approved pieces were perfect for Karan and her peers, they certainly weren’t appealing to her teen daughter, Gabby.

„There was a void in the market, so there it was—my daughter and her friends wearing all of my clothes. I couldn’t stand the fact that anybody else was dressing like me. It was supposed to be for me and my friends, not my daughter and her friends,“ the designer once exclaimed.

So in order to keep her daughter our of her closet, Karan decided to launch DKNY. But she took the brand a few steps further, going as far as to create plenty of androgynous designs and include many gender fluid references.

In the first collection, men’s ties were knotted around model’s waists as belts and there were plenty of unisex styles, including bomber jackets and T-shirts made for everyone—delivered in packs of three, à la Hanes. There were also denim skirts, jumpsuits, bodysuits, and culottes—you name it. Compared to the heavily styled silhouette of the moment, these pared back pieces felt like a breath of fresh air.

„It’s not got the pretentiousness of fashion…These are clothes to have fun in,“ Karan remarked about her first range.

The brand went on to become one of the biggest launches of the late ’80s, eventually expanding to include a ton of categories including hosiery, jeans, accessories, kids, eyewear, and more. While Karan is no longer personally associated with those four large letters today (the designer left her CEO position in 1997 but continued designing for it until she left the company completely seven years later to focus on her lifestyle brand, Urban Zen), its cross-generational legacy endures.

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