First Look at DMSX

Neal Salisbury, the newest designer at Donald J Pliner, is all about rock ’n’ roll, the color purple and pushing the design envelope.

As the creative force behind the company’s recently unveiled diffusion line, DMSX, he has given the collection a decidedly city-chic vibe, with Prince as his muse.

DMSX includes a variety of boots, pumps, flats, sandals and wedges. In fact, styles run the gamut from a refined pointy-toe flat in tan vachetta to an urban metallic-purple boot on a white platform. Materials include burnished nappas, patents and calf hair, and each sole is colored in the label’s signature “Shanghai purple.”

The line, which is the first launch since private-equity firm Castanea Partners acquired Pliner last year, is aimed at a 25- to 35-year-old consumer. That is significantly younger than the average customer for the company’s other offerings: Donald J Pliner, Lisa for Donald J Pliner and Donald J Pliner Signature. Naturally, that shopper also has a smaller budget than those who buy the other brands, and DMSX retails for between $100 and $200.

“My customer understands quality, but she is not really getting it in the market right now,” Salisbury said. “She is looking for a product that has a little more status, but she doesn’t want to spend $500 or $600 on a pair of boots.”

The collection, which is produced in China, also will include a fall selection of men’s styles at similar price points. DMSX is targeting major retailers such as Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, as well as e-commerce sites including Zappos.com, Shopbop.com, Piperlime.com and Revolveclothing.com.

Salisbury described the footwear’s overall look as “sexy without trying too hard.

“The shoes have a boldness, yet they are pulled back,” he said. “It’s about signature details such as oversized zippers.”

The Designer
Neal Salisbury joined Donald J Pliner in 2011. He previously served as chief design director at Camuto Group, where he headed up the launch of Jessica Simpson footwear in 2005.

The Inspiration
Music is the driving force behind DMSX, particularly the music of Prince. In fact, the label’s name is a play on his 1982 song “D.M.S.R.,” which stands for “dance, music, sex, romance.”

The Buzz
“Pliner has been an amazing partner, and we are excited to support the new image [the company] is taking in the marketplace,” said Mike Normart, senior director of brand development at Zappos.com. “We have heard good things [about DMSX] and are very excited to view the line.”

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