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Word has it that Liz Claiborne will make a big move next season. The department store label, famous for body-conscious clothes at an affordable price range, is handing over exclusive rights to national chain J.C. Penney, leaving behind both Macy's and Dillard's. Undoubtedly, the move was inspired by the recession; Claiborne was recently downgraded to "neutral" stock level, reportedly because their target customer (a.k.a. middle-aged women) are "likely to cut back on themselves before their families". The move also comes as a bonus to J.C. Penney, who has been working on reorganizing their contemporary labels in order to establish a more fashion-forward image at a smart price point. According to the New York Times, Liz Claiborne Inc. is expecting to "profit from its...wholesale brands in 2010" thanks to the new deal.
The move also means that Isaac Mizrahi's Liz Claiborne New York line will be moved out of the stores and only sold via QVC, with Claiborne receiving royalty payments on the line. This comes as good news, considering the line has not been performing up to Liz's expectations.
But what does this mean for John Bartlett for Liz Claiborne? Last week, we were just rifling through his sample sale racks and admiring the new look. Although there's no answer from the PR people yet, we're assuming the line will make its way into J.C. Penney as well...which might just give fashionistas incentive to shop at Penney's Manhattan location, after all.—Phillip Picardi
· New Distribution Strategy for Liz Claiborne [NYT]
· Liz Claiborne Sees Penney Partnership As Profit Opportunity [WSJ]
· Penney's Adds Own Contemporary Line [WWD, subscription req'd]