Following the year-long completion of a non-complete clause (after having sold his company), iconic footwear designer Donald J. Pliner has returned to the industry as the designer for “From the Mountains of Italy” and “From the Beaches of Spain,” the Femme and Homme Collections. The collections were presented to the media and retailers in early August 2016 during FFANY at his stunning new Penthouse Showroom at 14 East 60th Street in New York and will also be showcased at FN PLATFORM in Las Vegas. This marks the first time in over 27 years that he finds himself as an independent designer, away from the eponymous label Donald J Pliner™ he founded in 1989.
“Everything I design revolves around the two most important classes I took in design school – Anatomy and Portraiture. Anatomy for the comfort and Portraiture to keep the eye engaged. This has long been my signature style. It’s simply the way I think,” says Pliner. “Colors and materials come first, then the designs, but most important exceptionally comfortable fashion.”
Pliner personally designed the two new collections, spending the last month directing and overseeing the creation of every style first hand in Italy and Spain. Each style is meticulously and expertly beaded, embroidered, and embellished by hand onto the lavish uppers of haircalf, white ostrich, silk and mesh elastic prints, crocodile embossed calfskin, nappa and vachetta leathers, black and pearled patents, and washed suedes. All colors and materials within the collections are seamlessly coordinated in a palette of saturated colors, distinctive prints and bold embroidered designs.
Femme collections “From the Mountains of Italy” and “From the Beaches of Spain” include sneakers, smoking slippers, chic slides, footbed sandals, madras wrapped wedges, kitten heels, mules, and stacked platforms.
Homme collections “From the Mountains of Italy” and “From the Beaches of Spain” showcase sneakers, smoking slippers, monk straps, oxfords, Chelsea boots, loafers, drivers, and espadrilles. The vast array of styles across the collections are brimming with comfort features ideal for walking such as extra cushioned insoles, rocker bottoms, and rubber soles.
“From jeans to tuxedo dressing.”: The quality of detail and the uniqueness of designs in these collections are of a level normally only found in bespoke footwear. The collections offer exceptional craftsmanship and luxury comfort with price ranging from $250 to $475 rsp.
In other news, Castanea Partners (Owners of DJP Holdings, LLC) is suing Pliner to stop him from launching his new footwear collections. DJP Holdings, LLC filed a lawsuit against Pliner and his wife Lisa Pliner, trying to keep them from proceeding with his new collections.
In 2011, Pliner sold a majority stake in his namesake brand to a private equity firm, Castanea Partners. At the time the new partners recognized that his “talents and abilities” were “unique” and that they were “integral to the success of the company.” After the sale, Pliner remained as Creative Director for the brand. In the following years, however, it became apparent that the new majority partners and the newly appointed management had a different vision for the brand than its founder.
Last year, Pliner stepped down as its Creative Director when he realized that he could no longer identify with the direction the brand was taking. “It is with bittersweet emotions that I announce that I have decided to leave the company I founded,” said Pliner in a 2015 statement, announcing his departure.
Regarding the new legal action initiated against him by the owners of the namesake brand he founded, designer Donald J. Pliner says: “I am sad and disappointed by this news. In an effort not to publicly harm the brand and the value of the company I founded and in which I hold a minority interest, I did not seek a public confrontation. Instead, I fully complied with my contract obligations after the one-year non-compete period. I just launched two new collections meant to present my vision, craftsmanship, and personalized attention to the public. The only explanation I have is that this must be a misguided attempt to prevent the launch of my new collections. I am delighted to return to my passion of designing, and feel the same joy and excitement for my two new collections that I felt 27 years ago when I founded a brand I believed in. With all of my heart, I want to thank my wife Lisa, daughter Starr (can you believe she just turned 12), my family, my friends, my team, my longstanding buyers who have expressed their support and encouragement, and most of all – my fans for all of your excitement and warm reception. You keep me young and keep my passion alive. In my heart, I am hopeful that Donald J Pliner™ (the brand) and the designer Donald J. Pliner can find a way to co-exist and be one again.“