Donald J Pliner coming to Dillard’s, Penn Square Mall, on Friday
Donald J Pliner, whose name is on one of the most popular shoe brands in the country, will make a personal appearance from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at Dillard’s, Penn Square Mall.
Pliner has been to Oklahoma City several times, always to an excited and ever-growing group of fans. He likes to sign new pairs of shoes as well as ones bearing his name that women wear into the store.
He’ll come with marker in hand, but this visit will be bittersweet. Pliner is starting a new chapter in his life. A few years ago, he sold the company he founded in 1989. Earlier this year he stepped down as creative director.
In November, he throws open the doors to Coming Home, a gallery of home furnishings, unique objects and art in Miami. A book is also in the works and maybe even a movie. Pliner has an interesting life story to tell. Three different times he lost everything and through perseverance and grit, he survived and succeeded.
“One of the biggest highlights in my life was when I able to write a check without paying any finance charges.”
So what will he miss most about the shoe business? Pliner said it's the personal appearances and connection with clients. But he admitted he was losing a little of the passion needed for the job.
“I was always a retailer, loved being with the customer,” he said. He communicated with those who bought his shoes and listened to what they wanted.
He called those personal appearances his lifeline to the floor. “I’m sure I’ll miss that a lot.” What he won't miss is the extensive international travel that took time away from his daughter, wife and pets.
During his stretch as one of the country’s most popular shoe designers, his shoes became known for their comfort, fit and style, always with comfort being the No. 1 focus. He never bought into the notion that women or men should sacrifice comfort for fashion.
Pliner’s last influences can be seen in the current fall collection and the spring 2016 signature line, which will be available at Dillard’s in Penn Square Mall.
One of the biggest changes customers will see, and maybe already have noticed, is lower prices, from about $185 to $225. A few years ago, Pliner’s shoes sold in the $275 to $425 price range.
Although the shoes are now made in Asia instead of Italy, Pliner said styling is still fabulous and quality excellent. The goal was to get the best comfort and style at better prices while appealing to a broader market and continuing the Donald J Pliner heritage.
During his Oklahoma City visit, Pliner is eager to meet new fans and see familiar faces. And fingers crossed he’ll return. As his schedule permits, he said he will make personal appearances throughout the country to represent his namesake. It was his baby for a long time, after all.
At the same time, he’s excited about the new direction his life is moving. Pliner said there’s a possibility his gallery, Coming Home, may be franchised. The concept revolves around five lacquer colors – black, white, silver, cobalt blue and China red – to create a sensory experience.
It’s a similar kind of experience that comes from admiring the detail, quality and workmanship in Donald J Pliner shoes, and then the joy and fun of wearing them – sometimes right out of the store. Yes, they’re that comfortable. Let’s hope that never changes.