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Donna Karan Opened Pop-Up Urban Zen Holiday Marketplace, Celebrates Conscious Consumerism

Dec 04, 2013 11:50 AM EST
Donna Karan
(Photo : REUTERS/Adrees Latif )

Donna Karan is working hard to change the way consumers shop.

With her latest venture, the American fashion designer is using unique artisanal items from throughout the world in order to make a philanthropic difference.

This past weekend, Karan opened a pop-up shopping environment called the Urban Zen Holiday Marketplace at the Urban Zen Center in New York City's West Village neighborhood.

"I always feel it's about the artisans," Karan told WWD during a walk-through of the space.

"There are so many people who are really on this path right now so I said, 'Why don't we celebrate the whole concept of conscious consumerism, of buying something and giving back and making a difference in somebody's life?'"

In the space, shoppers will find hundreds of objects for sale, most of which are handmade, including various types of jewelry and handbags, as well as wooden dollhouses, furniture and rugs.

English brand Elvis & Kresse, which uses recycled materials, such as old fire hoses to create accessories, and The Caliber Collection, which uses serial numbers from illegal guns and bullet casing metal to create jewelry and raise awareness about gun violence, are among the vendors participating in Karan's market.

The FEED Foundation, which was cofounded by Lauren Bush, Lemlem by Liya Kebede, which is a line of Ethiopian hand-woven garments, and the Sheila Johnson Collection, a line of luxry scarves, are also included in the roster of participating vendors. A portion of all of the vendors' proceeds will be donated to the cause of their choice.

This concept of a "Soulful Economy" is one that Karan believes will continue to grow throughout time.

"I have always talked about dressing and addressing. It's not only what you're wearing on the outside but also on the inside. There is a soul there, an artisan hand. There is a conscious way of doing business," she said.

In addition to being a charitable way to shop, Karan's marketplace also includes products that people will actually want to purchase.

"Every time I walk in here, I buy," Karan said.

"I bought the jewelry, I really want to buy everything."

Currently, the market is scheduled to remain open through December 31, but Karan is already planning to keep it open beyond the end of this month.

"I don't think the Soulful Economy is just about the holiday season," she said.

"Hopefully I will be able to keep it up through fashion week. We want to open a little coffee bar here. That's our next move: 'Come here, buy a cup of coffee and a whole lot more.'" 

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