Retailers, consumers and prices
JC Penney stores in the United States and Puerto Rico are going exclusive with Liz Claiborne Inc’s namesake brand and celebrity designer Isaac Mizrahi will sell his upscale Liz Claiborne New York line only on QVC, a TV shopping network.
The moves from Liz Claiborne were seen by some as a downward shift to mass-market retail channels and came as department store orders for Liz Claiborne’s products have fallen during what has become the longest recession since the Great Depression.
Analysts said the JC Penney deal is more lucrative for Liz Claiborne and signals the end of a decades-long relationship between Liz’s main brand and the Macy’s department store chain – which didn’t exactly go quietly.
“The Liz Claiborne brand has sold poorly in recent years and has continued to decline. As a result, we could not justify expanding it at Macy’s,” a Macy’s spokesman said.
Tim Gunn lovers, alert! An apparel line under the name of fashion’s favorite is not entirely out of the question. So says chief executive of Liz Claiborne, the apparel giant that now employs Gunn as its chief creative officer.
Liz Claiborne Chief Executive William McComb, attending the Reuters Global Retail Summit, was asked whether a Tim Gunn-branded apparel line could ever be in the stars.
“I do, and obviously we would be the ones to do it,” responded McComb.
The strength of Gunn — who skyrocketed to fame through television’s popular “Project Runway” reality series – is his impeccable eye, McComb said.
“Tim is not a designer. He does not design. What he would bring to the table is the common sense edit of how to build a wardrobe,” said McComb.
“He could do the black dress, the white top, the work pants … it would be not necessarily high faloutin’ fashion, but really smart.”
And so we wait in anticipation. Read Reuters’ Liz Claiborne story here.
In the meantime, don’t expect a celebrity designer smack-down between Gunn and Liz Claiborne’s new creative designer, Isaac Mizrahi.
“They’re friends, they knew each other from Parsons,” said McComb, referring to the prestigious New York design school. “I would characterize it as very warm, very engaging, very friendly.”
Isaac Mizrahi, the ebullient fashion designer tapped by Liz Claiborne Inc to resuscitate its namesake sportswear line, seems to have worked his magic again, according to early analyst and retailer reviews.
The designer, who starred in the 1995 movie “Unzipped” and started the cheap chic trend favored by his former employer Target Corp, was named creative director of the Liz Claiborne brand in January and his first collection for the brand will hit stores in the Spring.
Check out the other discounter.
The wisdom in the struggling U.S. economy is that discounters are doing well as consumers trade down to try to save some money. It has worked for Wal-Mart, which saw first quarter profit rise 7 percent, while same-store sales rose 2.9 percent.
Not so much for Target, though.
That discount retailer today posted a 7.5 percent decline in net income for the quarter and its same-store sales dipped 0.7 percent and were weaker than the company had expected.
For a time, Target attracted customers with an approach that became known as “cheap chic,” with designers like Isaac Mizrahi developing exclusive clothing lines for it. At the same time, Wal-Mart has stumbled with its own attempts to upgrade its apparel offerings.
But even before the economy went south, Wal-Mart refocused on offering lower-priced value, a move that has helped the company in an economy that many say is in a recession.
Meanwhile, sales are falling short of Target’s target. And Mizrahi has left to become creative director at Liz Claiborne.
Right now, it looks like the dog days for Target, while Wal-Mart sports a smiley face.
Also in the basket:
Home Depot posts quarterly loss
Saks Inc posts higher quarterly profit